Ready, set, Boom.
Though the Millennial generation has dominated the narrative of city population growth in recent years, it’s easy to forget a demographic that is also experiencing life change and poised to set up camp in urban America: the Baby Boomers.
Here and across the country, Boomers are heading back to cities — at the pace of a trickle rather than a flood, to be sure, but it is happening.
“It’s definitely a trend. Not just in Philadelphia, but nationally,” Harris Steinberg, teaching professor of urban studies at Drexel University and executive director of the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, told PhillyVoice. “I think what you’re seeing is a couple things at play: Baby Boomers don’t have kids, schools aren’t an issue for them anymore and as the cultural and urban dynamics change, many Boomers are taking advantage of concerts, cafés and restaurants. It’s part of a larger trend of a return to urban living.”
The larger question that remains unanswered, he said, is what kind of city they’ll move into. Small cities? Large cities? Coastal cities? With Baby Boomers, the answer is as elusive as retirement itself. Globally, it’s the $15 trillion question.
Answers may hang on research from community preference surveys like the one issued bi-yearly by the National Association of Realtors. The last survey, conducted in September 2013, found that those over 50 were half as likely to care about having a large home as those under 50, are less focused on having a large yard and, in attitude, expressed that they’re more interested in revitalizing a city than a suburb.
Conditions are slowly lining up to prompt a change in lifestyle among aging Boomers.