Baby boomers are broadening their downsizing options, choosing to move out of their suburban homes and into urban condos. The migration to cities that began in earnest in the 1990s slowed during the recession. But now it’s on again. One million baby boomers moved to within 5 miles of downtown of the 50 largest cities between 2000 and 2010, says Redfin, an online real-estate brokerage, reports The Wall Street Journal. According to the American Housing Survey, 9.6 percent of households 55 and older in major cities lived in condos in 2011, up from 7.3 percent in 2005.
“Baby boomers are tired of mowing the lawn. They’re looking for a more diverse environment,” says Chris Leinberger, chairman of the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at George Washington University School of Business. Several motivating factors are driving the migration into densely populated cities. First, some boomers want to engage with a diversity of ages rather than isolate themselves with only those over the age of 55. Second, many metropolitan areas have gotten cleaner and safer over the years. They also offer a plethora of cultural amenities, public transportation, and walkability.
One Seattle couple exemplifies the downtown move. John Truax, a 64-year-old retired engineering executive, and Kathie Truax, 67, sold their 3,800-square foot home located in a Seattle suburb for $470,000 three years ago and purchased a 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom condo for $730,000 in the South Lake Union neighborhood. “We find people here are much more engaged in the world,” says Mrs. Truax. “We feel like we’ve started a new book. Every day we say ‘Can you believe this? This is so fun’.”