You can forget the story line that baby boomers will be flocking to the cities for retirement. The media has overplayed it mainly because media lives in the city and can’t see the forest through the trees. Joel Kotkin writes about the decline in city population and growing smaller town population. Check out the full article here in Forbes.
Perhaps the biggest impact, however, may be on smaller metropolitan areas and the less expensive Sun Belt communities. As more boomers achieve “empty nester” status they could bring investment capital, and broader connections to smaller cities that could much use them.
One early sign of this trend may be the recent rise in migration to Florida. After a brief recession-driven hiatus a net 200,000 people have moved to Florida in the last two years. New Census numbers also suggest a large number of people continue to leave the Northeast, the Midwest and California. Also likely to benefit will be some emerging boomer magnet communities in Idaho, Arizona, Utah, the Carolinas and Colorado.
For real estate developers and investors, the ones often most entranced by the “back to the city” story, the lessons are very clear. It makes more sense to follow the numbers, and understand the logic of senior migration, than swallow the snake oil so many have been carelessly imbibing. There are great opportunities in the expanding senior market, including in some uniquely attractive urban districts, but the bigger plays are in outlying areas, and, increasingly, smaller towns.