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Not all Boomers Downsize

5 September 2012

The thought that Baby Boomers get older, sell their big family home, and move into something smaller such as a condo is one that many of us assume will happen automatically. And while it does make sense for Boomers to downsize, and even though some really want to, others simply don’t. Some Boomers love living in big homes and their dream is to continue doing so for as long as they can.

This comes from an article written recently in The New York Times, but the picture painted isn’t that much different than what can be seen going on here in Canada. Of course Boomers want to downsize! They don’t need all that space, or the hassle of maintaining a huge home. This, at least, is what we think. But when it comes to what the Boomers think they should do with their properties, many of them have very differing views.

“I’m 64,” a Boomer was quoted in The Times. “I plan to be around into my 90s and I wanted a place I could stay in my whole life and enjoy. I’ve got four bathrooms now and I don’t need four bathrooms. But I felt it was the right thing for me to do.”

And many Boomers feel the same way. Why? The answer is really quite simple, but requires many of us to shed the idea that as Boomers get older, they simply sit around waiting out their days. Boomers are more active today than many of the older generations before them; and they need the space to allow them to be that active.

It’s true that some Boomers downsize because they no longer need their large family homes. But many Boomers also keep those homes, or even buy newer, bigger ones, all so they can still have their family over. Having a house full of grandchildren over on Sunday is the perfect way for many Boomers to spend their Golden Years – and they need all that space so they have a place to put them. Of course there are also dinner parties, Christmas dinners, and a number of other things Boomers still want to be a part of (or host) and again, they need a large space in order to do it.

This group of Boomers was termed as “zoomers” by National Post reporter Moses Znaimer a little while ago. He said the term was meant to describe “boomers with zip;” boomers that still want to be active in their retirement years.

Znaimer also stated that, “Developers must acknowledge the importance of designing properties that reflect zommers’ desires to pursue active lifestyles and remain connected to their communities.”

The Times article comes at a pertinent time. People in Canada can’t stop talking about how the Boomers will hold up our housing market by continuing to buy condos and smaller homes as they age. While that might be true, this recent article at least shows that this isn’t the case for all Boomers. And that while they may help elevate sales somewhat, we shouldn’t be counting on them to do all the heavy lifting. Some of them may simply not want to.

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