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Canada’s baby boomers want affordable housing when retiring
Mar 20, 2008

There truly is no place like home for Canada’s baby boomers. In fact, 60 per cent of boomers would prefer to stay in their current community when they retire, according to RBC’s 15th annual homeownership study.

“Even though this generation of ‘zoomers’ will tell you they have plans to travel abroad and pursue a more active lifestyle, many still want to keep their current home in retirement,” said Catherine Adams, vice-president of Home Equity Financing, RBC Royal Bank. “Having a home base that is familiar and comfortable and where they know their neighbours and their community is important to them.”    

When it comes to changes in residence that boomers are likely to make in retirement, 40 per cent said they plan to move to a region where housing is  more affordably priced. 

Not surprisingly, after withstanding long, cold and snowy Canadian winters, many boomers, once retired, would prefer a warmer climate (35 per cent), but only a few are likely to move to a different country (11 per cent). Men (16 per cent) are more likely than women (12 per cent) to want to move to a different country in their retirement.

To make it possible to stay right where they are, just over half of the boomers surveyed intend to do some remodeling, while 19 per cent plan on undertaking some major renovations. As well, 24 per cent are looking to purchase a second property or vacation house.

“Interestingly, we also found that boomers are not attracted to ‘seniors-only’ communities, as over three-quarters find it appealing to retire in an area where there is a mix of younger and older residents — perhaps because most of Canada’s boomers don’t see themselves as old,” added Adams.

Of the forty per cent of boomers who do not plan to stay put in retirement, the type of communities they would prefer to move to fall into four distinct categories:

• Camp 60-plus — 29 per cent have an affinity to retire in a community close to nature centred on outdoor activities.

• Let me entertain you — 22 per cent would prefer a setting that focuses on social interactions, activities, and interests.

• Survival of the fittest — 16 per cent would rather live in a community which promotes a lifestyle focused on health, fitness, nutrition and emotional well-being.

 • Reduce, reuse, retire — 15 per cent prefer a community supporting environmentally-responsible behaviour and lifestyle.

The survey also showed that boomers want it all. When asked to rate the appeal of certain features relating to a possible retirement home, boomers were attracted to a home within walking distance of necessary services (89 per cent), close to nature (89 per cent), well-suited for entertaining family and friends (88 per cent), one which features everything on one floor (87 per cent), and one which is close to water (84 per cent).

Boomers are not taking their adult children into consideration when thinking about their home in retirement. Sixty-one per cent are not attracted to a home that has separate quarters for adult children living at home.

However, 53 per cent are interested in a home with separate living quarters designed to meet the needs of aging parents or relatives.

Yet, some boomers are living with both generations. While only five per cent of boomers report having their parents or in-laws living with them, 15 per cent say they have adult kids aged 21 or older living at home — of that percentage, 41 per cent have returned home to live, and a whopping 59 per cent have never left home. 

One in three said the primary reason their adult children are living with them is to save money, 11 per cent say it’s because of no job or job loss, seven per cent to save for a down payment and six per cent are living with their parents due to marriage or relationship breakdown.

Eighty-three per cent of boomers think it’s important to pay off their mortgages before they retire, however, 61 per cent still have a mortgage. Of those boomers surveyed, 22 per cent believe their home will be their primary source of income when they retire.

“As expected, many boomers who have yet to retire are still carrying a mortgage, but unlike their parents, this generation may continue to tap into their home equity, when retired, for the things that matter most to them,” added Adams. 

“In early retirement, the ‘middle-agers’ may want to help their boomerang kids get established, upgrade their home, or buy a vacation property. 

“In the ‘senior’ phase of retirement, they may use those funds as income to cover any rising costs and taxes required to stay put in their current home.”

 Eighty-eight per cent of boomers feel a home that is well suited for entertaining family and friends is appealing. Over three quarters would like to have a maintenance service for their home, while 59 per cent find a condominium community attractive, where security, landscaping, and shared amenities, such as a pool, gym or golf course are taken care of.

More than half (59 per cent) of boomers are interested in a new construction retirement home, with the latest cutting edge designs and features. Almost half (47 per cent) indicate that they will likely be moving to a smaller home when they retire; only 10 per cent are interested in a larger home. 

One in three want a “boomer bungalow,” or everything they need on one floor.