Not Your Grandma’s Retirement Community: Today’s Active Adult Communities in Florida
The last of the Baby Boomers, the largest generation in United States history, turns 55 in 2019. Their children are grown, they may be retired or scaling back on full-time work, and it’s their time in the sun. Literally.
They’ve earned the right to live in a climate that’s easier on both body and soul; so active adult communities have exploded in Florida, Texas, California, Nevada and Arizona. The permanent vacation vibe of that climate is reinforced by the plethora of activities and amenities available to service this vibrant, energetic demographic. They may be getting older, but as the first generation of Americans to embrace the fitness craze and eating with longevity and well-being in mind, the Baby Boomers (and Generation X on their heels) are not about to sit out their golden years in a rocking chair.
“I call them over-active adult communities!” laughed Ron Capitena, a regional director of active-adult communities for FirstService Residential. “The energy of the residents in our communities is just astounding.”
Who are the residents of active adult communities? “About 25 to 30% of them are still working, sometimes embarking on a second career,” Capitena said. “25% of our residents are snowbirds. Some residents still maintain a second home up north, but it’s likely to be used as a vacation home, when they want to go see the kids and grandkids.”
What can people expect at an active-adult community, formerly known as “55 and over” communities? “Anything and everything!” Capitena said. “There are clubs for anything you can think of – sports leagues, sports tournaments, fitness centers, clubhouses, golf courses, travel opportunities and more.” A few of the more unusual offerings include gem and stone collecting clubs, classes and studios for working with stained glass as well as ceramics and clay, a photo lab and darkroom, domino clubs, wine clubs, sportsman’s clubs for gun collectors and karaoke clubs.
Because today’s active adults understand that learning is truly a life-long endeavor, many active adult communities have formed relationships with local universities. Whether through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes or other university programs, residents are able to attend many university lectures at no cost and to participate in specific programs on campus. Speakers can also come to the communities to speak on any number of topics, including the latest in health care trends, mindfulness, the environment and other topics of interest to the community.
Over the last decade or so, as most new buildings have moved toward luxury fixtures and premium finishes, active adult communities have followed suit. Although unit sizes have remained fairly consistent over time, builders continue to raise the bar on home interiors, offering far more options of greater quality. Clubhouses, landscaping, amenities and entryways have become more lavish as well, keeping pace with the desire for homes to be status symbols.
Capitena said that the health and wellness interests of the Baby Boomer generation means that the fitness centers are always busy. Active adult communities offer the chance to participate in plenty of physical activities outside the fitness centers as well, including water volleyball, tennis, golf, softball, pickleball and dance, to name a few. Communities compete in leagues, both formal and informal, against other communities, and schedule tournaments in tennis, golf and softball.
“In my 11 years with FirstService Residential, I’ve noticed that activity levels have increased as the communities are getting younger, both in actual age and in their approaches to and attitude toward aging,” Capitena said. “This generation takes fitness very seriously – most of the people using the fitness centers are regulars, here almost every day.”
“Changes continue in active adult communities, as the younger members of the Baby Boomer generation move in. They’re into mobile apps, electronic voting, digital check signing and other technology that was resisted by older residents in the past,” Capitena said, noting that a much greater adoption of technology in that segment is expected in the next few years.
Is your active adult community offering the most it can to residents? As more young Baby Boomers and then Gen X move into active adult communities, the emphasis on “active” will continue to grow. Communities will face greater pressure to keep up with these truly active adults and provide the amenities they demand. For information on how to stay on top of the latest trends and make the most of your active adult community, contact FirstService Residential, Florida’s leading property management company.