President & CEO at AD1 Global, a fully-integrated hospitality, acquisition, development & management company headquartered in Florida.
It’s fascinating to see the trend in which a significant part of the population is aging and at the same time, paradoxically, is living an active lifestyle not only in terms of health and attitude but also in terms of their role in consumption and the nation’s economy.
We are talking about the baby boomers. The generation that was born between 1946 and 1964 and today accounts for about 76 million people in the United States. This demographic group grew up in the first stages of mass media and consumption. They embraced rock and roll, racial integration and other trailblazing ideals, all fueled by the democratization of music creating a strong pop culture.
Over time, they worked hard, bought houses, had children and sent them to university. Now, their children have their own homes and their own families to take care of. Today, many boomers find themselves free of dependents, meaning that they can focus on themselves once again.
This is a generation that is entering its “golden years.” Their main concern now is to have the best possible quality of life, and they now also have the purchasing power to do so. While a large part of their spending goes into day-to-day life such as medical care and mortgages, they are also spending increasingly on life experiences planned and designed for them.
Baby boomers are increasingly active in their old age, simply by living longer, healthier lives than any generation before them. They like to debate ideas, discuss the world and politics and enjoy interactions with like-minded people. The world does not define them; they are redefining the world around them.
What Real Estate Developers Must Understand About Baby Boomers
High-end apartments that offer various amenities and foster community relationships are very attractive to boomers. Developing multifamily residential properties that highlight and support the lifestyle that they want and incorporating key elements into a design will help improve the marketability of these value-add projects in the future. Moreover, putting all of these exciting and age-appropriate features inside a community atmosphere significantly betters their day-to-day lives and gives them a certain peace of mind, as matters of mobility and sociability become of greater concern.
As they flee empty nests for homes more suited to their lifestyle, baby boomers expect new construction builds with high-end finishes, efficient use of space, single-story layouts and fewer stairs, higher countertops, large closets, large master bathrooms, gourmet kitchens, large balconies and integrated technology systems.
Proximity to services — and more importantly, to services and businesses that tend to be clustered in more urban areas — is key. Small, walkable towns that they can access on foot or take very short drives to to reach the services they need, such as health facilities, grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, restaurants, retail outlets, etc. is a huge selling point.
Another important element is a sense of community and social interaction. Amenities that foster community relationships while providing entertainment are very important. On top of a generous offering of on-site amenities, which may include a fitness center and pool, boomers expect much more in the way of planned social activities. They look for more community relationships, entertainment, dedicated events, body and spiritual programs or waterfront dining. Furthermore, the benefits of centering these home on social activities and community events rather than the hassles that are usually associated with single-family homes, such as mowing the lawn or changing the drain pipes, is a priceless feature that aging boomers will appreciate.
The supply of housing for this segment undoubtedly opens a fascinating business opportunity for developers now and in the future. On one hand, the irreversible fact of an aging population with better health indexes and a good amount of buying power is attractive from a purely business standpoint. On the other hand, we must also see this phenomenon as a vibrant force and approach it inherently from a humanistic point of view. It is not only about offering comfortable spaces that are aesthetically pleasing but also a value proposition that supplies social experiences (entertainment, healthy living, harmony). At the end of the day, it is about creating spaces that offer moments that range from a personal to a collective perspective, generating plenty of sensations and emotions for a generation obsessed with youth, not with the age.