Downsizing for baby boomers
Are you a Baby Boomer?
If so, then chances are you are retired, about to retire, or at the very least watching your kids leave the nest.
Either way, you may well have broached the subject of “downsizing” – trading in the space, labour, and cost of the family house in favour of something smaller and simpler.
And, because you are Baby Boomers – that demographic juggernaut – developers are taking notice.
“We’re definitely tapping into that boomer market,” says Denis Laporte, founder of EQ Homes, the developer of Equinelle, a new lifestyle community in Kemptville, Ontario.
It has become a mecca for those who are retired but still physically and socially active. Equinelle features a golf course, its own medical campus, and several other amenities for its residents. Future plans call for a 20,000 square foot golf clubhouse and community centre with games rooms, exercise facilities and more.
While the development is open to all ages, Laporte says 80% of sales have been for bungalows, purchased by retirees. Equinelle even offers a maintenance-free option for snowbirds. “We take care of their grass,” he says. “We take care of their flower beds. We take care of all the exterior maintenance on the house.” He also says the houses in Kemptville can sell for thousands of dollars less than similar homes in Ottawa.
Another new development targeting downsizers is Avonlee Condominiums in Perth, Ontario. According to Mark Lee, President of Homes by Design, it’s among the first to offer high-end condo living in a small town. “My average condominium is at least 11-hundred square feet,” he says. “My penthouse suites are almost 2-thousand square feet.”
Lee hopes the appeal of a small town will help attract a slice of the luxury condo market normally reserved for larger cities like Toronto and Ottawa. “If I get even a small percentage,” he says “I’m more than busy in small town Perth.”
Experts say it’s important for retirees and downsizers to think about the lifestyle they are buying, not just the home. Is golf important? What about location? Medical facilities? Maintenance?
And, most importantly, can you afford it? Physical downsizing doesn’t always translate into financial downsizing.
“Over 53% of people that are at the edge of retirement, they’ve never given much thought at all to what they’re going to do once they close the office door,” says Doug Robinson who, with his wife Judy, runs Senior Moves, and wrote the book The Best Of The Rest: Downsizing for Boomers and Seniors.
The Robinsons say their best advice is to do your homework. People need to put a lot of thought into what they want out of retirement, and how their needs might change as they age.
And now they have more options from developers trying to meet those needs.