By Robyn A. Friedman
City & Shore PRIME
If you’re 55 or older and starting to think about your future housing needs, we have good news for you. Thanks to the physical and financial fitness of the nation’s Baby Boomers, more housing options are available than ever before.
Here are just a few of the housing choices available:
Staying Put. Many Baby Boomers are opting to stay in their own homes and age in place — especially as the cost of senior housing, such as independent and assisted-living, skyrockets. More builders are incorporating principles of universal design to allow occupants to continue to use the home without the need for adaptation. Existing homes can be retrofitted as well to make them easier to access.
Home Sharing. Think of it as a modern-day “Golden Girls.” The sharing economy that has popularized Uber and Airbnb is also making it more acceptable for homeowners to open their doors to long-term renters. According to John Burns Real Estate Consulting, 59 percent of owned homes — some 44 million homes in the United States — have at least one spare bedroom. Homeowners in need of additional income, either for retirement or to make their mortgage payment, may be open to renters in search of more affordable rent. Together, they can make life less expensive for each other — and reduce loneliness.
“With rising housing prices, we’re entering into an affordable-housing crisis,” says Ken Johnson, Ph.D., a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. “I would be surprised if older folks were not sharing a rental or sharing ownership.”
Multigenerational Living. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center report, the number of Americans living in multigenerational-family households is on the rise. That applies to college graduates returning to the fold because they can’t get a job, as well as elderly parents moving in with their kids to avoid the cost of senior housing. Miami-based Lennar Corp. has been building multigenerational homes since 2011. Its product is called NextGen, and it’s essentially a home-within-a-home, currently available in 13 states, including Florida. A typical NextGen floor plan includes a private living room, bedroom, full bath, kitchenette and single-car garage.
Toll Brothers also sells homes that are well suited for multigenerational families.
“We have a couple of communities that have several families living together, and we have homes that can accommodate that very well,” says Fred Pfister, Toll’s senior vice president, Florida East Division. “We have a number of different personalization options as well that would provide for that lifestyle.”
Toll’s Royal Palm Polo community in Boca Raton offers several floor plans with two master suites, including one on the ground floor. These homes also have optional private elevators. Certain models at the firm’s Rolling Oaks Estates community, now under development in Southwest Ranches, will have small guesthouses called casitas that also can serve as home to older family members.
While Lennar and Toll Brothers sell homes that make multigenerational living easier, Sunrise-based GL Homes is building an entire community with features and amenities designed to appeal to both young families and active adults over 55. The company’s Dakota community in Delray Beach is comprised of 387 homes that include two-story models for families and single-story models better suited for active adults. The community has amenities that appeal to homeowners of all ages, including both tennis and pickleball courts and a children’s playground.
“Our one-story homes are as popular as our two-story homes,” says Jill DiDonna, a GL senior vice president. “This project definitely has mass appeal to retirees and families.”
Luxurious Senior Housing. Senior housing has evolved through the years, and assisted-living facilities are not your grandparents’ nursing home. Many of these facilities more closely resemble luxury condominiums than they do traditional senior housing.
Vancouver, Wash.-based Milestone Retirement Communities, for example, is developing senior housing in South Florida under the name “Symphony.”
The company is already operating Symphony at the Waterways in Fort Lauderdale, which has 106 units and rents starting at $5,200 per month. Symphony at Boca Raton, with 98 assisted-living and 42 memory-care units, recently opened, with monthly rents starting at $3,500. Symphony at Delray Beach is scheduled to open this summer, with 88 assisted-living and 30 memory-care units and rents starting at $4,000. Each project has extensive amenities, from dining rooms to bars, theaters and onsite salons and spas, and the rent includes three meals per day.
“Our communities are high-end, independent-living style, but we do offer care around the clock,” says Andrea Abbott, Milestone’s regional vice president of sales and marketing for the East Division. “Our product line is much different than anything else that is available. We build everything for modern-day seniors — for those who may need care but are looking for a more independent lifestyle.” Abbott says that the company is looking for additional sites in South Florida.
Retiring Overseas. In an effort to stretch their retirement dollars, more Americans are opting to retire abroad. According to the Social Security Administration, as of December 2016 — the most recent month for which statistics are available — there were 401,014 retired workers living abroad. Of course, there are many other issues that affect Americans who want to retire abroad, from access to healthcare to taxes, visas and money transfers, so be sure to do your research and consult with experts.