Cities Vie for Retiring Baby Boomers... That Aren't Moving

March 17, 2018

 

Most Baby Boomers do not seem likely to move. For as long as it is feasible, a 2009 AARP telephone survey of 1,600 adults 45 and over found that 73 percent strongly agreed they want to stay in their current residence and 67 percent strongly agreed they want to stay in their community. The same survey found 24 percent of those who want to stay attribute their preference to financial strain. The evidence in the past shows that older adults are less likely to move as they age past 65 with a slight increase at age 85. Baby boomers are less likely to move than previous generations, particularly in the last twenty years.

 

Adults 65 and over move less than any other age group. The 2013 Current Population Survey shows of those older adults that move, 14 percent of older adults moved out of state in 2012 and 35 percent of these adults report family reasons compared with 13 percent reporting retirement reasons. Only 8 percent of adults over 85 cite health as a reason for moving. Moving within or out of the state, the census reports adults 65 and older respectively cited housing-related reasons (ex., better or cheaper housing) and family-related reasons as the two most common reasons for moving. Very few older adults cited health or change of climate as a reason for moving.

 

The idea that older adults want to head to warm weather and leave their family behind seems to not have much support by older adults themselves. Based on these results, the majority of adults at least 45 years old will want to stay in their homes and communities as they age, and will likely do so until the around the age of 85. Most older adults will stay in their current state and move based on housing-related or family-related reasons.

Baby boomers are less likely to move than other generations (especially out of state) and they express a preference to stay in their home. According to the Demand Institute (2014) on Baby Boomers (i.e., adults 50 to 69 years old at the time of conducting the survey):

  • 63 percent do not plan to move at all;

  • Of the 37 percent that have plans to move, 66 percent of these older adults want to stay within the same state:

    • 51 percent of these older adults want to stay within 30 miles of their current residence;

    • Older adults rank highly the importance of “wanting to be closer to family.”

What are the implications? For one, cities across the country are marketing themselves as a great place to retire. Among some, there is an expectation of a silver tsunami rolling in to sustain or even save the local economy. Based on the preferences of Baby Boomers, this may be the wrong demographic to be focusing on to allure into one's city.

 

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