This weekend I spoke with two different couples considering using a Reverse for Purchase mortgage as they relocate to be near adult children. One wife said, “We’re moving because I don’t want to be an absentee grandmother.”
The “why” of their move is not surprising. The “where,” however, may be: both couples are moving from lovely suburban neighborhoods into more densely populated, urban areas.
And they are not alone. In fact, seniors moving from suburbia into cities is one of the nation’s fastest growing trends. Richard Florida in Who’s Your City? writes:
After years of raising kids and taking care of large houses, an increasing share of [the over-65] demographic is interested in downsizing and returning to the hustle and bustle of urban neighborhoods.
Though reasons for this trend are myriad, the underlying essential theme is the same: connectedness. Urban areas are much more likely to provide well-paying employment for seniors’ adult children, so to remain connected with kids and grandkids, seniors move closer in. However, this is only part of the connectedness theme cited by seniors themselves.
According the Urban Land Institute, highest-growth urban areas offer the obvious: cultural amenities, restaurants, shopping and walkable layouts, all of which increase seniors’ connectedness. But there are other, lesser seen attractions as well, such as a high concentration of well-educated, well-traveled individuals in a similar stage of life, volunteer opportunities, and highly-active religious, social, and political groups.
And very importantly, cities offer employment. In its January 2013 Fact Sheet, the U.S. Department of Labor shows nearly 20 percent of seniors between the ages of 70-75 “participate in the labor force.” In other words, they still work – or have gone back to work. Many cities offer jobs for experienced workers – and work increases connectedness as well.
As America grays, connectedness is going to play a major role in seniors’ ability to age in place, a goal held by nearly 95% of aging homeowners. Seniors who are tied into their community tend to be healthier, happier, and have more opportunity to contribute their experience.
Cities, not long ago nearly synonymous with drug dealers, welfare queens, abandoned lots, and trash-ridden streets, have become a major factor in Americans’ long-term well-being – and are likely to remain so for a long time to come.
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