Aging Boomers – An urban myth?

The September 12, 2011, issue of Forbes features an article titled “Where the Boomers Are: Builders think empty nesters are moving to the big city. Guess Again.” Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox cite the 2010 census as evidence that boomer populations declined by 10.3% over the previous decade. They go on to list their “Hot Spots for the Aging.”

1. Las Vegas
2. Phoenix
3. Tampa-St. Petersburg
4. Orlando
5. Riverside-San Bernardino
6. Raleigh
7. Austin
8. San Antonio
9. Jacksonville
10. Charlotte

Does this mean that developers and planners have been deluded for the past ten years as cities have sprouted new downtown housing? My downtown developer friends who sell condos would beg to differ. Many of their best sales are to gray hairs.

So what gives?

Affluence is the answer.

The authors did not make a distinction among income levels. There has been a slight increase in the number of affluent people above the age of fifty in many of America’s downtowns. Unfortunately, this has been swamped by the exodus of lower-middle-class folks who can’t possibly pay over $200 per square foot (let alone $2,000) presented in new developments.

All the jurisdictions above are in warm places with low taxes (excluding Riverside), and warm weather. Duh.

So, if you’re developing in urban areas you can benefit from the small minority of affluent seniors, but don’t bet on bucking the trend.

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