By virtue of its size, the baby boom generation influenced consumer trends at each stage of its life cycle. When boomers were younger, suburbs expanded to house all the new (and larger) families. But now that boomers are reaching their senior years, developers should recognize their new housing needs: smaller homes with better access to services.

Census projections suggest that in the next twenty five years Cascadia will gain nearly 2.2 million seniors, an increase of over 115 percent. In contrast, the youth population (below age 15) will increase by only 806 thousand, or around 28 percent (see chart).

These aging baby boomers will need a different type of housing from when they were younger.

  • Without kids to raise, boomers won’t need as much space. And as they age, they may neither want nor be able to take care of a large house and yard, let alone a McMansion. Aging also reduces mobility so seniors often need alternative transportation, such as buses or dial-a-ride. It also helps to have nearby shops and services.

    Dense, mixed-use developments inside cities and towns (instead of on the suburban fringe) can meet these needs. An apartment that’s easy to clean and has a building manager to maintain, a nearby bus stop with frequent service, and neighborhood shops all serve the booming senior generation and can help keep them independent longer.