Across the country, single women make up a large section of homebuyers, especially women over 55. In the 2019 55places National Housing Survey, 2,500 potential and recent homebuyers revealed who they are and what they're looking for in a home. In that survey, the respondents were interested in active adult communities, and 59 percent were women and 28 percent lived alone.
Similarly, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that about 21 percent of the homebuying population over 55 is made up of single women. This is a bigger segment than people under 55, where single women make up less than 17 percent of the homebuying population. According to the NAR, the median age of a single woman who purchases a home is 54.
The NAR also writes that women may have been homeowners, but may have never purchased a home on their own. According to a study from Harvard University, over 85 percent of women over 45 looking to buy a home are either widowed or divorced. They may also anticipate remaining single and, therefore, wish to purchase a home rather than rent.
So what are these women looking for when they purchase a home?
Safe and Independent Living
The 55places survey found that overall, respondents wanted single-story living as opposed to a condo or townhome. The Harvard University survey found that many single women would rather live in a condo because of the security that it provides. Many 55+ communities offer a combination of condominium, attached, and single-family homes in a variety of sizes to fit a homebuyer's needs.
Many 55+ communities also have the benefit of being gated or enclosed, allowing for all homeowners to feel secure. Single-family homes designed for active adults usually include first-floor master suites and open floor plans.
A Robust Social Life
The 55places survey also found that respondents had a variety of reasons for moving, with the top response coming from an interest in better amenities and social opportunities. In fact, 65 percent said they wanted a fitness center, 59 percent an outdoor pool, and 37 percent an indoor pool. Large and popular active adult communities often have resort-style amenities associated with 55+ living, including fitness centers, pools, and social spaces.
Many 55+ communities or communities designed for active adults are committed to engaging residents in a socially active lifestyle. For single women, this can be especially important. Some of the most popular groups indicated by the 55places survey include travel groups, health groups, and athletic clubs, activities usually made more fun with a partner or group. Some communities have amenities designed for single adults or offer singles groups so residents without partners can meet up.