By Elizabeth Whalen, SquareFoot Blog
By the time the first Baby Boomers turned 18, they had witnessed the rise of Elvis Presley, the launch of Sputnik, the introduction of the birth control pill, the “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Witnessing all that change didn’t dampen their appetite for change, however.
“They want to change everything, and they’re going to change retirement,” said Kenneth W. Gronbach, an author, futurist and demographer in Haddam, CT. “They changed education. They changed transportation. They’re about to change retirement. They’re going to be the youngest old people the nation has ever seen. They’re going to be playing air guitar until they’re 80.”
Members of the Baby Boom generation were, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, born between mid-1946 and 1964, making the earliest Boomers 67 years old and around retirement age. Because of the recession and housing crisis, some Baby Boomers have delayed retirement.
Watch for plastic surgery to go through the roof as Boomers attempt to stay young.
— Kenneth W. Gronbach, futurist and demographer
Whether they’re retired yet or not, many Baby Boomers are on the move and mostly in search of warm climates. From 2000 (when Boomers were between 36 and 54) to 2010 (when they were between 46 and 64), San Francisco’s Boomer population fell 10 percent; Chicago’s and New York’s fell 9 percent each.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas gained 20 percent more Boomers in that 10-year span, even more than Phoenix, which picked up 11.5 percent. And several towns in Florida showed even higher Boomer gains. But warm weather isn’t everything: Los Angeles lost 10 percent of its Boomers.
Of course, no one can live on sunshine alone. In addition to economic growth and affordable housing, which help make any area desirable, Boomers need access to health care. As they age, they’re becoming more interested in elective medical procedures, too. “Watch for plastic surgery to go through the roof as Boomers attempt to stay young,” Gronbach said. “Boomers will take advantage of everything health care to the nines–more so than their parents.”
Many Boomers will move to traditional retirement locations, such as Arizona and Florida, according to Gronbach. In fact, Phoenix and Orlando made SpareFoot’s new list of Baby Boomer Boom Towns, but neither one came out on top.
To determine America’s Baby Boomer Boom Towns, we analyzed not just Boomer population growth for the country’s 100 most populated metro areas, but also per-capita growth in gross domestic product (GDP), per-capita personal income growth, housing affordability and number of health care workers per capita. GDP and personal income data are inflation-adjusted. Housing affordability is determined by the National Association of Realtors’ Affordability Index of Existing Single-Family Homes; the higher the number, the more affordable the housing market. Two metro areas didn’t have data for this metric, so we estimated housing affordability based on numbers for similar areas nearby.
- San Antonio
San Antonio is growing a lot, and not just in terms of its Baby Boomer population. Its economy is doing well, yet housing remains affordable. The city attracts millions of tourists every year, thanks in part to the Alamo, the city’s most famous attraction.
It’s also a well-managed city, said Becky Dinnin, vice president of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. Most cities finance infrastructure and other public investments by selling bonds, and the better their bond rating, the easier it is to invest in the city’s future. San Antonio is the only American city with a population of at least 1 million to secure a AAA bond rating from all three major rating agencies, she said.
“That’s a bigger deal than most people understand. It means we can invest in ourselves in a robust way,” she said. “We have money we can spend on parks and on new highways and roads.”
The city also is diverse—with Hispanic, German, French and Czech influences—and is conveniently located.
“We’re halfway between the East and West coasts. It’s warm and close to the beach. That adds to the appeal,” Dinnin said.
San Antonio skyline
Baby Boomer population growth 2000 to 2010: 8 percent
Average annual per-capita GDP growth: 3.5 percent
Average annual per-capita personal income growth: 2.1 percent
Housing affordability index: 198
Total health care workers per capita: 0.035
- Boise, Idaho
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Austin, Texas
- McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
- Nashville, TN
- Orlando, Florida
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Columbia, South Carolina
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Houston, Texas
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Provo-Orem, UT