AARP recently concluded its comprehensive "Livability for All: The 2016 AARP Age-Friendly Community Survey" report, which surveyed residents age 50 and older in 11 metros across the country about the features of their current housing, the importance of community features, and the need gaps between present conditions and preferences. The survey drills down into "eight domains of livability" the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified as being key to the quality of life of older adults, and to help cities "prepare for the rapid aging of populations and the increase in urbanization" as droves of baby boomers retire in the coming years."

We'll be highlighting different portions of the survey results for a total of 14 metros, but note that three of those metros (Philadelphia, Washington County, and West Sacramento) surveyed residents age 45 and older, thus dipping into the Gen X population.

There is a clear dichotomy between what the boomer heart wants and what the boomer heart needs in terms of housing. In every market, 80% or more of all survey respondents considered it important to stay in their own home as they age. Boomers living in Houston, Texas; Lansing, Mich.; and Tallahassee, Fla.; are most adamant about aging-in-place, with the highest share of respondents (87%) preferring the option than any other market. When asked if they would be "unlikely to move to a different home in the same community," or "unlikely to move to a different home in a different community," the share of respondents that are completely adverse to the idea varies greatly, even within one state. The majority of residents surveyed (higher than 60%) in both Dallas and Fort Worth don't think it's likely they'll be moving to a different home any time soon--within their current community or in a different community. In contrast, boomers surveyed in San Antonio and Brownsville are much more open to the idea of moving in general, with 10% of the population reporting a move "unlikely" within their current or a different community.

The heat-map below details how important residents consider staying in their current home and current community is while they age, as well as the likelihood of them moving to a different home within their current community or a different home in a different community.

Likelihood of Moving to a Different Home or Community to Retire

The majority of boomer respondents from Atlanta, Ga.; Bangor, Maine; Brownsville, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; and Tallahassee, Fla.; are loyal to their community, and consider it important to stay in the same neighborhood through retirement. When asked how they would rate the livability of their community for aging residents, the majority of those respondents rated their community as being in "good" or "very good" condition. Survey respondents in Philadelphia and Phoenix were the least emotionally tied to their current neighborhood, with only 39% of resident surveyed considering it important to stay in the same 'hood as they grow old.

Resident Rank: Livability of Current Community for Aging Residents

If boomers do decide to move to a new home in retirement, they are mostly likely to be swayed by the functional and economic benefits of doing so. Across all markets, an average of 51% of respondents said they would move from their current home if they found a home that would maximize their ability to live independently as they age, followed closely by the desire to move to home with a larger or smaller footprint (49% on average). Being closer to family and lowering current costs of living were less influential than expected, with an average of 35% of respondents considering those major factors in the decision to move. Communal features like public transportation and advanced health facilities were the least influential factors at 21% and 20%, respectively.

By market, survey respondents in Washington County, Ore. consider independent living features and moving to a different size home most influential, rating both as high as 62%. Keeping close family ties is most important to boomers living in Brownsville, Texas (54%) , while in Lansing and Philadelphia (where the unemployment rate is higher than the national average) residents would be more willing to move if it would lower the financial burden of leaving the workforce (45%).

Influential Factors Contributing to Moving After Retirement