Pam and John Admire considered downsizing to a downtown Coral Gables condo from their three-bedroom Coral Gables house when they became empty nesters, but changed their minds when they ran the numbers.
I was ready to give up on the maintenance, says Pam Admire, 57, but when we looked into it, the taxes on a smaller place were exorbitant. It just wasnt worth it.
When boomers do move, they want a simpler lifestyle. They dont want the responsibility of a pool, a yard, something more to take care of, Shuffield says. Theyre done with that.
Townhomes and condos often fit the bill. Two years ago, Silvia and Luis Moran sold their Kendall house with its big yard, Jacuzzi, butterfly garden and orchid house and bought, mortgage-free, a two-bedroom condo in West Kendall. It was difficult for the couple to leave their home of 30 years, but the savings were substantial, even when they took into account homeowner association fees.
We wanted to stay close by, near doctors and everything else, says Silvia, who is retiring later this year. (Husband Luis, 60, who has Parkinsons disease, has already left the workforce.) But we also knew we wanted to simplify our lives. We positioned ourselves for the future.
When you take into account taxes and insurance, affordability is a huge problem for those who want to stay here on a retirement income.
If youre not affluent, its difficult to live in South Florida, FIUs Hardin says. When you look at it, you can move and retire to less expensive places.
The Carolinas, as well as Georgia and Tennessee, are growing in popularity, not only for those who used to retire to Florida but also those retiring from Florida.
For some South Floridians, moving out can also mean going abroad, often back to Latin America. The wealth you accumulate here goes a lot further there, Hardin says.
If they move, boomers prefer urban areas and walkable communities where they can stay physically active long into retirement.
Thats what Russell Robertt wanted when he moved from his condo in the Dadeland area. At 49, the Miami native searched for a more affordable city where he could continue teaching until he retired.
I was looking down the road at what I was going to need, Robertt says. I needed a bigger place so friends could visit, but I also wanted something that would allow me to save money for retirement.
He found that in Atlanta. Though his building is in Buckhead, an uptown urban area, the gated community has a large, woodsy area for walking and hiking.
I just dont see myself in my 60s, sitting in my place watching TV all day. I want to be able to get out, Robertt says.
Because many have cared for elderly parents, boomers also know to look for amenities that are easier on achy backs and creaky knees one-story homes with wide doors and hallways, accessible bathrooms, good lighting and flex space that adjusts to a homeowners needs over time.
And those with the resources are willing to pay for these amenities.
Boomers are more demanding than past generations, says Greene of Coldwell Banker. They want the luxuries that make their lives easier, things like granite or marble, not mica.
In the end, though, where a boomer grows old will depend in large part on what he or she can afford.
Its not just the desire, FIUs Hardin says, its the ability, and that picture is something thats still unfolding.