A businesswoman using a laptop and smartphone at cafe

COVID-19 has forced many Americans to work remotely — and some companies even have added an option for employees to work from home for the rest of their careers. For the senior housing industry, this may mean a jump in purchases from non-retirees, according to a CNBC article Monday. 

“We may begin to see a boost in people buying retirement homes before their retirement,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, told CNBC. To date, the evidence is anecdotal, Yun said, noting that housing demand has risen in vacation resort areas. 

Either way, there’s no doubt that the oldest baby boomers are changing the traditional notion of retirement. Of those who already have entered retirement, 38% have moved to a new home, according to the 20th annual Transamerica retirement survey, released this month. When choosing where to live, retirees’ cited proximity to family and friends (61%), affordable cost of living (55%) and access to excellent healthcare and hospitals (46%), the survey found.

Further, many boomers also are challenging the old formula of cookie-cutter retirement communities, as evidenced by the rise of customizable living arrangements. Sprawling housing developments in retirement havens such as Florida are becoming less desirable and, as people live longer, they want their retirement to reflect their lifestyle choices, finds another CNBC article Monday.

“These communities used to be production builds, but now the consumer, baby boomers, want customization,” Jane Marie O’Connor of 55+, a Massachusetts-based consultant that works with builders and developers of senior housing and lifestyles, told CNBC. She added that the firm also has seen a greater demand for outdoor space and a need among boomers to maintain the active lifestyles that have been a part of their routines since childhood. 

“This is the generation that grew up with JFK’s physical fitness program; they’ve been active all their lives,” she said.