Many boomers not ready to make seniors housing move

Boomers may be reluctant to move into seniors housing.
Boomers may be reluctant to move into seniors housing.

Seniors housing companies prepping for baby boomers may encounter prospects who are largely unwilling and unable to relocate.

A survey by the New York City-based Demand Institute targeted more than 4,000 baby boomer households nationwide. Investigators found that roughly three-quarters of the respondents do not want to move into a seniors housing community in the near term. Plus, most couldn't make the transition even if they wanted to, given their relatively precarious financial situations. 

Average boomer net worth, which exceeded $200,000 before the Great Recession, has dropped to $143,000, according to the survey. Moreover, the median outstanding mortgage balance for a 50-to-69-year-old household grew from $48,743 in 1992 to $118,000 by 2014 — and 56% of those surveyed indicated they plan to obtain another mortgage.

Jeremy Burbank, a vice president at Nielsen (which operates the institute), says people born between 1945 and 1964 are comfortable carrying more debt, and would rather think about moving into their dream home than settling down into a retirement community.

“Boomers are just not planning ahead for some of the health issues and limitations they will face later in life,” Burbank says. “They look around and have a general reticence for things that are labeled as ‘seniors products,' including housing. Even with possible renovations to their homes, they're focused on updates instead of installing aging-friendly features.”

Because the younger seniors want to stay at home, so-called “active” communities catering to the 55-to-70-year-old crowd are struggling, unless the property has a niche, he says. 

The average age of those entering what used to be called “independent living” is now 70 years old. The typical assisted living resident today is 82, and in most cases, female.


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