Retirees give these regions the highest grades, per a Merrill Lynch/Age Wave study.

Chicken or egg, economics is changing our households. Or is it the other way around.

For Baby Boomers reaching or nearing retirement, households as America once knew them--however briefly in time--are a bygone notion.

Here's a new study from Merrill Lynch and Baby Boom consultancy Age Wave that looks just around the corner at impetus and motivation at the heart of Baby Boomers and their retirement homes, where three out of five plan to move at least once during retirement.

Simply and clearly, people who reach their early to mid-60s want one thing: the best home they ever lived in.

What its location is, how it's designed, and which engineering breakthroughs it contains is a matter that's economically fluid. As noted above, economics is changing households--even if it's the retirement household, "the best house" that person, or those people ever lived in.

The Washington Post recently caught up with the multi-generational household trend, one that more often than not--depending on the cultural heritage of the residents-- works out to be a way for younger homeowners to host their aging parents. WaPo staffer Michelle Lerner writes:

Lennar's multi-generational "Multi-Gen" home.

Although extended families living under one roof is common in various cultures, the inability of many people to get on their feet after the recession and the increasing longevity of Americans have boosted demand for homes that accommodate several generations. Since 2011, when Lennar introduced its “NextGen” model designed specifically to meet the needs of multigenerational households, the company has sold more than 3,000 of the homes in 13 states.

Now, 3,000 homes in four years is a statistical blip for Lennar, but builders everywhere have encountered an emerging need to offer floor plan flexibility to accommodate either multigenerational situations, "Airbnb Suites," or like our Pardee Homes-built Responsive Home(s) in the Las Vegas-area master planned community of Inspirada in Henderson, Nev., "revenue suites."

Here, from Hanley Wood house plans maven Aurora Zeledon, is a recently posted, and currently very popular piece on "Innovative Layouts for Modern Living Situations," aka homes that can accommodate more than one "family unit," largely for economic reasons.

The top line triggers for retiring baby boomers map out like this:

  • The “Freedom Threshold” phenomenon: Why, by age 61, the majority of people feel free to choose where they most want to live
  • The “Downsize Surprise,” revealing that many retirees choose not to move to a smaller home
  • “Retirement HotSpots”: The places people say they want to live in retirement—and why
  • Top Renovation Projects: What retirees are doing to make their current homes even better Important considerations when deciding where to live in retirement
  • New options empowering retirees to stay in their homes and remain independent in later life

Speaking of "hot spots," this is how the Merrill Lynch/Age Wave analysis heat-maps retirees and near-retirees preferences for where they're bound as they go for the "best house of their lives."

Retirees plan to move to these regions, per Merrill Lynch/Age Wave analysis
Retirees plan to move to these regions, per Merrill Lynch/Age Wave analysis

Here's one of the study's insights on what, why, and wherefore, motivating retirees and near-retirees in their home and location choices:

According to this study, just 7% of retirees have moved into age-restricted retirement communities. However, there is growing diversity of retirement communities designed to meet the needs and aspirations of new generations of retirees. Today, approximately 100 retirement communities have ties to universities,4 affording opportunities for continued learning and connections with both students and alumni. Other retirement communities have been created around niche interests and affinities, such as religion and spirituality, art and theater, and hobbies.

What will definitely factor into these choices is economics, which will impact floor plan, design, and engineering for both the early part of retirement, and the later, more infirm, stretch of the life stage.