It’s no secret that baby boomers are a diverse group when it comes to how they’re living--one size definitely does not fit all. However, they’ll need to address housing issues at some point, whether it’s downsizing to an active adult community, aging-in-place with services on delivery, or other continuing care models.
But one thing's for sure: the baby boomer generation is destined to change the face of housing as they age, according to Dr. Jeffrey P. Rosenfeld.
“Boomers don’t want to buy into the kind of housing that was done by their grandparents,” he says.
Rosenfeld, an environmental gerontologist, says there are some things boomers want in a home and some things they inevitably will need. Here are three baby boomer housing must haves:
Adaptable space. While more and more baby boomers are working from in-home offices, they’re looking for a space that can convert from work to play. So, some empty-nesters may be looking to turn an office space into a guest room on the weekends for children or grandchildren, Rosenfeld says.
“Or this could be an ideal place for a caregiver to live,” he says. “They’re looking for space that is not just multi-purpose for a week or a weekend, but over the long haul.”
Another trend Rosenfeld has seen is adaptable storage space being built into two-story units. Homes where the closets are aligned one above the other from floor to floor creates an option for an elevator to be put in.
“They’re not building the elevator yet, they’re just creating the opportunity in case they should need one in the future,” he says.
Homey Finishes. Most baby boomers are looking for a more manageable space but don’t want to lose the comfort of a home. It’s a concept that Rosenfeld calls “bistro living”.
“Bistro living means living in houses or homes that are down-sized but no less luxurious,” he says. “They’re smaller but not skimping in any way.”
Granite countertops and up-to-date appliances seem to be a highly coveted in kitchens.
And when it comes to fixtures, baby boomers are looking for high-end finishes and luxury options. While bathroom grab bars make sense for functionality, most baby boomers aren’t interested in installing a silver, hospital-like bar. Instead, they’re looking for bars that can match the finishes in a home.
“Grab bars don’t look like your Grandmother’s anymore,” he says. “They want and need these things because they know what the future is going to bring and they want items that are functional but don’t look geriatric.”
Access. While many baby boomers aren’t relocating to the Sunbelt states like their parents once did, they want to live in midst of it all. Having walkable locations close to restaurants, gyms and shopping is a growing interest in the demographic.
Meanwhile having access to friends and family is also a driving force in keeping the baby boomers from moving far away causing baby boomer communities to crop up without being planned or advertised that way.
“We are seeing the beginning of communal arrangements of boomers finding places where they, and their friends, can build and design and live in homes close to one another,” Rosenfeld says.