Del Webb, America's largest builder of active adult communities, has been conducting surveys of its target buyer (those 50 years-old and up) since 1996, offering unique insight into the behavior and lifestyle preferences of the baby boomer demographic.
In 2013, the survey placed emphasis on gauging boomer opinion about having an "empty nest" (the majority preferred that children not come back home to roost), but this year's survey focuses exclusively on the single, female baby boomer.
And that's not a small crowd: According to the U.S. Census, 28 million (or 37%) of America's 76 million baby boomers are single females. In fact, across all age groups, single-females account for one out of every five home purchases, according to the National Association of Realtors.
This cohort could become the new target demographic for builders of age-restricted communities like Del Webb, given that the lifestyle/housing preferences reflected in survey responses mesh with an active-adult community lifestyle.
The first two releases of the 2015 survey paint the demographic as confident, health-centric, and hell-bent on supporting themselves. Despite long-term financial concerns, 45% of single boomer babes feel that their best years are yet to come, and outside of spending time with family and friends, having an active lifestyle is a top priority for 68%.
Nearly half of respondents (45%) are content being single and have no interest in dating, while 56% claim to "never go on dates." It's hard not to consider that personal bias (over 58% of unmarried baby boomers are single through divorce) is skewing individual responses given the apparent disinterest in companionship, but it's clear that today's single female aged 50-68 is far from being a portrait of Miss Havisham.
Single, female baby boomers are taking their second act seriously, although the majority of respondents report that this time in their lives doesn't feel like a second act at all.
It's a good thing 76% of survey respondents report feeling younger than their age, because career is far from over for the majority of them. Half of single female boomers surveyed are still working, 34% plan to retire between the ages of 65-69, and 14% plan to work 'til the end. On the plus side, of those 50% of respondents still employed, 79% are satisfied with their current position.
Despite the sunny attitude portrayed in the survey, it's hard to ignore disheartening commentary from economists that single baby boomer women will have a harder time in retirement than the rest of their generation. Survey responses echo that single boomer babes fear the same sentiment to a degree; 59% of respondents still working claim they continue to work to ensure that they will be financially prepared for retirement, and 49% rank savings as the top priority for their money.
When asked what they would do with an extra $100 given to them in week, 41% said they would deposit it into their savings, illustrating that financial security in retirement is a looming concern, and every dollar saved counts.
According to the 2015 Retirement Confidence Survey, worker and retiree confidence in financial preparation for retirement has continued to rise since 2013, and the more time someone spends planning, the more apt they are to be financially secure later in life.
Women have a longer life expectancy than men however, so as the boomer population ages, the number of female baby boomers that become "single" due to the death of their partner will rise. Del Webb's survey doesn't indicate personal history of survey respondents (single by choice, divorced, widowed, or other), so a survey of married female boomers would need to be conducted to find out if the majority are as career-driven and actively involved in financial planning, but it's possible that "newly single" female boomers could really be the group most at risk financially later in life.