The Baby Boomers have been a transformational generation, to say the least. Born between 1946 and 1964, Boomers are known as the healthiest and most educated of any American generation in history.
They’re also among the biggest, numbering upward of 77 million individuals. Generally speaking, they’re tech-savvy, active, hardworking, independent thinkers. So how does this correspond with traditional notions of active adult communities? In short, it doesn’t. And that’s why more active adult communities are seeking the help of a good property management company to help them navigate these changes.
"Boomers as a group simply don't fit the mold most people have about aging and activity levels," says Dr. Robert Misurell, Director of Planning for the FirstService Residential Longevity Program, and a leading expert on the sociology of aging and intergenerational living. “They look at things differently, which means active adult communities need to start looking at things differently, too.”
With that in mind, here are six ways 55 and better communities are evolving so they can best serve the needs and interests of today’s Baby Boomers.
1. Creating a new definition for “active.”
Originally, active adult communities were built in warm climates in the suburbs, typically around golf courses. This cookie-cutter approach no longer fits the diversity of thinking and attitudes that defines the Boomers. Today, active adult communities are created in urban environments and rural settings alike – and the golf course centerpiece has been supplanted by a focus on facilities that enable a broader range of activities, such as seminars, discussion groups, education and more. Outdoors, there’s a greater emphasis on amenities that bring people together socially, like patios and BBQs, and golf has been dethroned by diverse sports such as softball and pickleball.
2. Putting health first.
Remember when we said Boomers were among the healthiest of any American generation? That didn’t happen accidentally. This is a group of Americans who have spent a lifetime focusing on self-improvement – physical, mental and spiritual. Today’s active adult communities reflect that commitment, offering wellness seminars, yoga and meditation classes, educational events and much more.
3. Knowing your market.
Describing an entire generation with a single set of characteristics can prevent you from truly understanding your local active adult community. Different regions of the country – and even rural versus urban markets within the same region – can include individuals who fit the same age profiles, yet differ greatly in what they consider good living. The answer? Research. Get to know your community. Talk to community leaders. Find out what people are interested in, then tailor your offerings accordingly. It might even help to speak to current residents about what their non-resident friends think about your community...and about what activities you can provide that would make it more appealing. The best property management companies have entire divisions devoted to lifestyle – by keeping their fingers on the pulse of specific markets, they can develop lifestyle plans to fit the data they obtain.
4. Staying flexible.
Boomers are a diverse lot, so many active adult communities find that the overall interests of their residents are constantly evolving. Creating lifestyle plans that are nimble and adaptable are key to keeping your offerings relevant. For example, that could mean ensuring your physical amenity space can easily transform from, say, a meditation room to an educational seminar room to a festive setting for casino night.
5. Building a brand.
So what does a brand have to do with your community? Well, consider this: a real brand is more than just a logo or some advertisements. Think of the brands you know and love – maybe Apple, maybe JetBlue, or any others – but the key is you love the brand because you feel connected to it
. Brands are what give companies humanity. Make sure your community has one, and that it resonates with your residents. When people love where they live, they’re more likely to provide suggestions and input that will help it continue to improve and grow –and they are more inclined to promote their community to potential homebuyers.
6. Training, training, training.
Creating meaningful experiences for Boomers takes out-of-the-box thinking, and getting there requires training. Good property management companies actively train their team members so they can provide the kind of insight and direction necessary to create thriving active adult communities in this new era. Beyond that, they also focus on customer service skills designed to help relate to the more educated, discerning individuals that typically comprise the Boomer generation.
In true Boomer fashion, this is a generation that is changing everything – for the better. With the help of a good property management company, active adult communities can be ready to navigate this change, and create happier residents in the process. For more information on the changing trends in active adult living, contact FirstService Residential