Living with Our Own Kind
By Bernice Hurst, Managing Director, Fine Food Network
We’ve talked here before about multi-generation and single person households but there is another kind of household whose numbers, especially in the U.S., are increasing steadily year on year. According to a recent Bloomberg article, 2.8 million households nationwide were part of age-restricted communities in 2005, up 29 percent from 2001. An estimate from the National Association of Home Builders projects that as many as 95,000 units limited to senior citizens will be built in the U.S. in 2007.
A correlation can be drawn, of course, to the aging boomer population and extended lifespan many people are enjoying. Enjoying is the operative word here. More and more adults of a certain age, too young and healthy to need assisted living, have decided they prefer neighbors of a similar age.
England may not yet have as many purpose-built gated communities specifically targeting a 50+ audience but there are towns such as Christchurch where the more mature are gravitating. As Fay Weldon of The Guardian discovered when she went to visit, there are mixed views about the long-term viability of such a demographic mix. There may be more people with common interests and more volunteers to run community centers and libraries, but caregivers are generally older and therefore more likely to become infirm themselves. There are different needs and demands when it comes to shopping; the mix of retailers, and their selection, may also need to change. (More pharmacies, fewer toy and DIY shops.)
Discussion Questions: Will living in age-restricted communities change the way people shop? What will this mean for retailers? Will retailers begin to work with developers to include retail space within adult-only communities?
It may be comfortable to live amongst people of a similar age but, by deliberately limiting contact with other groups, choices may also be restricted. Many retailers are targeting local rather than general audiences more and more but outlets in age-restricted communities may change the available labor pool, as well. With fewer young people living nearby, it may be difficult to recruit and train appropriate staff.
and the type of retailers that may succeed amongst such groups is another intriguing
issue. Some people want to keep their own furniture and belongings but others
take the opportunity to start from scratch and carve out a new lifestyle. Elinor
Ginzler, the AARP’s director for livable communities, points out that the square
footage of homes in adult communities has grown steadily and the demands are
increasing. David Simpson of UK-based developer, Millgate Homes, also maintains
that purchasers want spacious accommodation and high levels of décor. It isn’t
all a matter of downsizing; there is a demand for luxury amongst those who
can afford to buy property in these newly desirable communities. How important
(and easy or difficult) do you think it is to maintain a balanced assortment
- Only One Way Out of Here – The Guardian
- ‘Vasectomy Housing’ Surges as New Jersey Tax Remedy – Bloomberg News