Everybody Is Searching For The Right Home
Just as builders and developers ask where our young people and the continual influx of immigrants will live, we also ask where baby boomers will find homes that accommodate their needs as they age.
Baby boomers represent the largest demographic movement in Canada’s history. This massive segment of the population includes people born between 1946 and 1965, making them between 50 to 71 years old. According to Statistics Canada, in 2014/2015, the growth rate of the population aged 65 and older was four times that of the total population.
As baby boomers retire or prepare for retirement, baby boomers begin to look at their future housing needs and many realize that these needs are, and will be, changing.
The progression is natural one. Younger people starting families need larger homes as the family grows, and conversely, many baby boomers with empty nests tend to seek more compact living quarters as well as maintenance-free lifestyles. They are tired of the shoveling, mowing and other routine maintenance, and they would like to be able to unlock and enjoy some of the considerable equity they have in their current homes when they downsize. The opportunity to cash in on this level of equity power simply didn’t exist a decade or two ago.
A condominium can be the answer for some, but many cannot envision moving from a single-family home into a 750 to 1,000- square-foot highrise condo with limited parking. If they want a larger suite (not readily available in today’s newer buildings), it means considering older residences, many of which are in urgent need of repair and do not have modern features or amenities.
Because of soaring real estate prices and the scarcity of new ground-orientated housing, especially single-family homes (baby boomers are not looking for multi-storey townhomes), there are very few options in the GTA. As a result, they look farther out in the smaller towns and cities where these options do exist, and there is still excellent access to shopping, entertainment, recreation and healthcare.
To the east and west of the GTA along Highway 401, to the north along Highway 400, and the Niagara area — all within two hours of the GTA — homes are much more affordable and there is product available that better suits baby boomers. Smaller, ground orientated housing of various types, both condo and freehold, offer modern designs and amenities, many with single-floor living with the master bedroom on the main floor. Some plans even have additional bedrooms in a loft for visiting family and/or friends. It may mean living farther away from children and grandchildren, and of course, that always has to be factored into the choice of location.
We now see people in their 60s and 70s — and even in their 50s — taking this step so they can lead the lifestyle they want. They are thinking ahead and banking the equity they have. Many go back to being single-income couples before retirement or semiretirement, and when they want big city life or have business to do, they can travel to Toronto and stay in a hotel for a couple nights.
Looking at your lifestyle and planning ahead for your next move can be a very fulfilling and pleasant experience. Take the time to understand your choices and the places you might want to move. Visit them more than once, whether a condo or a property just out of town, and make the best decision for you.
BOB FINNIGAN is the principal and chief operating officer for housing at Herity (formerly the Heron Group of Companies). He also vice president of The Mikey Network, a charity that places defibrillators in public places.