Aging Baby Boomers: The Next Big Wave of Luxe Urban Renters?

While much of the prevailing discourse on real estate tends to focus on the power of millennials, the apartment sector is paying more attention now than ever to aging baby boomers who are setting their sights on luxe urban apartment living. According to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by RENTCafe, baby boomers are actually the fastest growing segment of the country’s rental population. This demographic, the anticipated “silver tsunami” heading toward the American landscape, will likely influence modern developments due to seismic shifts in lifestyle.


How big is big?

CNBC reports that between 2009 and 2015, the number of renters over 55 increased by 28 percent, compared to a 3 percent increase in renters 34 years or younger. In addition, the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies issued the following insights that speak to an aging American population:

* One out of three U.S. households will be headed by someone over 65 by 2035.

*79 million Americans may be weighing their options for renting in retirement now.

*The 80-plus population will grow 18 percent between 2020 and 2025, and then rise a further 27 percent between 2025 and 2030.

*The number of Americans over 80 will double in the next two decades, from 6 million to 12 million. (Source: Projections and Implications for Housing a Growing Population: Older Households 2015-2035)


How do baby boomers choose an apartment?

Location, location, location remains the prevailing factor for choosing a place to live, regardless of age or income. Baby boomers are looking for urban or suburban locations with easy access to recreation, shopping, restaurants and other modern conveniences like pharmacies, health care, and grocers. “Some of the baby boomers have started to downsize and relocate from the suburbs to the urban core, and they’re looking for a location that caters to their lifestyle,” affirms Billy Pettit, vice president of Seattle-based Pillar Properties.

Closely related to, but a different aspect of location, is transit. If walking to a destination is not an option, or at least not a preference, then convenient access to public transportation is another must-have among 55-plus apartment renters. Sally Abrahms, a baby boomer expert and contributor to Not Your Mother’s Retirement, explains that connectivity between apartment developments and the rest of the community is the most important factor for baby boomer renters. In short, she adds, “Boomers want to be in the center of the action and not depend on their cars.” Walkability is another determining factor.


What are baby boomers expecting in amenities?

Walk-in closets, full kitchens, spacious layouts, indoor communal areas, concierge services, and chauffeured car service are among the top amenities that 55-plus renters are seeking as they downsize and transition from homeownership to apartment living.

Connecting with others is also important for the baby boomer generation, and boomers are not limited to socializing with their own generation. Branden Wermers, director of development of a San-Diego-based company, explains how his company’s millennial-tailored events attract boomers too and that boomers are not simply choosing apartments for their “senior” conveniences.

For these reasons and with aging preferences in mind, many builders are planning now to break ground on apartments better suited for an avalanche of baby boomers hitting the rental market.