group of senior adults laughing on couch together in community home

Active Adult Communities are gaining in popularity

The truth is in the numbers; the number of people willing to move to active adult communities doubles in the last 10 years.

The National Investment Center (NIC) for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry recently released the 2007 results of its “National Housing Survey of Adults Age 55+.” The study is designed to gauge the opinions, attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors of people aged 55 and over relating to adult communities. The previous study was conducted in 1998. The nearly ten-year lapse since the last study was conducted provided some very interesting findings regarding the awareness and acceptance of age-qualified housing.

Double the Fun

In 1998, the number of people age 55 and older who would consider moving to or living in an age-restricted community was 18 percent. By 2007, that number had more than doubled to 37 percent. Furthermore, nine percent of those surveyed in 2007 had indicated they had made the decision to move to an adult community in the future, compared to just four percent in 1998.

The survey also concluded that the number of people currently living in age-qualified communities had nearly doubled in the last ten years. In 2007, the number of people who indicated they currently live in a 55 and older community had risen to 12 percent from just seven percent in 1998.

It is important to note that the study does not limit their definition of age-qualified housing as simply active adult communities and/or active retirement communities. Their classification encompasses all age-qualified housing including active adult communities, independent living, assisted living, continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), 55 and older apartments, and rent-subsidized housing.

Perception Between Communities

In the last decade, the awareness of active adult communities has changed little (64 percent from 62 percent). In that same time, the awareness of independent living, assisted living and CCRCs all rose by factors of 12-16 percent. The number of people who indicated active adult communities and CCRCs as “very desirable” or “desirable” was unchanged throughout the decade while the number actually decreased for independent living and assisted living.

The study’s findings present some interesting conclusions for those considering active adult communities. Although the number of people aware of these communities and their designation as a “desirable” place to live remained relatively unchanged, the number of people who actually moved to them nearly doubled.

The Times Are Changing

We find it interesting to note that the change supports what we have seen over the last several years with buyers in the industry. When we first started working with active adult buyers, many of the baby boomers were just approaching the required 55 and older age category. We noticed a propensity for people to be more standoffish about the idea of moving to an active retirement community. Many people seemed intrigued by the concept but the idea of actually moving to an adult community seemed taboo. It was as though the idea had not caught on and people feared ostracism from their boomer friends if they made the move to a “retirement” community.

Over the last several years, however, that idea has changed dramatically. We think this is due largely in part to the new and innovative offerings at many active adult communities. Today’s active adult communities are no longer your father’s retirement community. Plus, as the number of people who grow to accept active adult communities as a viable option combined with the number of people who actually move to these communities, the idea has a snowball effect. The first of the baby boomers have pioneered the way into active adult communities and they are reporting back to their friends and younger boomers that these communities are a great place to live.