Garages and grandkids helping drive baby boomer relocation decisions

Older buyers interested in buying a new home typically hope to find a property that will allow them to be close to their grandchildren and have a spacious garage, according to a recent survey by the national home building company PulteGroup Inc.

The finding was part of the PulteGroup Home Index Survey, which polled both millennials (ages 22 to 36) and baby boomers (ages 50 to 65). A total of 1,043 responses were collected in February from baby boomers who said they were looking to buy a home within the next 10 years.

Nearly half of all respondents said they were thinking about purchasing a home sooner rather than later. Thirty-eight percent said they would likely buy a home within the next three years, while 11 percent said they hoped to buy a home within a year.

The most common reason for a relocation was retirement, with 39 percent saying this life event was a motivating factor in their decision to buy a home. One-third said they wanted to downsize to a smaller home, and 30 percent said they wanted to find a better location to live.

"Retirement marks a new phase in a baby boomer's life, and it only seems natural to relocate or move to a new home when transitioning away from their primary career, or from the day-to-day rearing of school aged children," said Jay Mason, vice president of market intelligence for PulteGroup. "Whether they are selling the homes where they raised their children and heading to sunnier pastures, or staying near their hometown, it's not surprising that the 55+ buyer wants a variety of options and choices in their homes."

Multi-car garages with plentiful storage were the feature most desired by the survey's respondents. Other features baby boomers indicated they would like to have in their next home included an open deck or patio, an open floor plan, an eat-in kitchen, and a small, private yard.

Respondents were most likely to rank proximity to their grandchildren as a favored attribute of their new community. Thirty percent said they would like their new home to be within walking distance of their grandchildren's residence. Mason says this result was surprising, since the ability to easily visit grandchildren wasn't considered a priority in previous surveys.

"The desire to nurture the grandchildren-to-grandparent connection appears to be strengthening between baby boomers and the millennial generation, who also have a strong desire to be near aging parents," he said.

PulteGroup previously released data from the survey of millennials, which indicated that 26 percent expect their parents to move in with them at some point in the future. Forty percent said it was very important or extremely important to have their parents or in-laws within walking distance of their next home.

Water access was the next most desired community feature among baby boomers, with 24 percent saying they wanted to be near a beach, lake, or river. Twenty percent said they wanted easy access to a park or other green space.

Thirty-eight percent said they would like to move out of state, with many seeking warm climates. Twenty-eight percent said they would prefer to move to Florida, followed by 11 percent who were interested in relocating to Arizona, 9 percent who preferred the Carolinas, 7 percent who preferred Texas, and 5 percent who preferred California.

Thirty-four percent said they want to stay within their state, but move to a different city or town. Twenty-six percent said they would like to stay in the same city or town when they purchase their next home.

Cost of living was a key consideration, with 82 percent saying this was an important factor in deciding where they should purchase their next home. Seventy-four percent said it was also important for their next home to have access to health care facilities.

On average, respondents said they expect to retire at the age of 63.7. This was down from an average expected retirement age of 65 in a 2013 survey.

Other surveys suggest that baby boomers might wait longer before they give up working. A 2009 poll of 2,417 adults by the Pew Research Group found that 52 percent of those between the ages of 50 and 64 had thought about delaying retirement, with 16 percent saying they did not expect that they would ever retire. A report on U.S. jobs for the second quarter of 2017 found that older Americans are increasingly working past the traditional retirement age of 65, with 32 percent of those between the ages of 65 and 69 and 19 percent of those between the ages of 70 and 74 continuing to work.

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