It’s hard not to notice when Baby Boomers start doing things. At 77 million strong, according to Census Bureau statistics, the group has long been a societal pig in the python, and as of Jan. 1, 2011, the front end of that lump arrived at age 65. And as has been done at every other life phase the group has entered into en mass, everyone from doctors to retailers to home builders is trying to understand what it will mean to have 37% of the nation’s population officially enter retirement age over the next 19 years.

To shed some light on the situation, a recent poll by National Public Radio, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health, asked a series of retirement-related questions having to do with housing preferences, as well as other issues such as financial situations and health care, to two groups: those who had already retired and pre-retirees approaching retirement age. The poll included 1,254 respondents, all age 50 or older.

The results reveal a 50-plus population with some interesting contradictions between what they expect retirement to be like versus what those who have already retired say. For example, the belief that one will move to a different home during retirement was far more prevalent among the pre-retiree crowd than among those who had already retired. While 61% of pre-retirees said it was either very likely or somewhat likely that a move would take place, only 27% of respondents who were already retired said that moving was likely (although an additional 14% had already moved).

A series of questions about how important some features of a community are in relation to helping retired people stay healthy also revealed some significant differences.

While 81% of pre-retirees felt it is very or somewhat important to have access to public transportation, only 66% of those who had already retired felt that same way. In ranking the importance of opportunities for volunteering for charities, 92% of pre-retirees said that would be very or somewhat important, while a smaller 69% of retirees gave the same response. Among pre-retirees, 87% felt it would be of some level of importance for a community to have opportunities for paid work, while only 69% of retirees felt the same way.

In what may speak to a discrepancy between expectations and reality when it comes to the likelihood of grandchildren living with them during retirement years, 57% of pre-retirees ranked having good schools as a priority, while 70% of actual retirees said it was important.

There were some issues, however, that everyone could agree on. A community’s ability to provide clean air and water was rated as very or somewhat important by 97% of those who were already retired and 99% of pre-retirees. Access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables was rated as either very or somewhat important by 95% and 93% of retirees and pre-retirees, respectively.

Community outdoor space for physical activity, such as walking and jogging, was ranked as important among 92% of retirees and 95% of pre-retirees, with 80% of pre-retirees ranking it as very important.

Access to health care was also a top priority for both groups. Access to pharmacies or drug stories was ranked as important among 94% of retirees, and 92% of pre-retirees. Access to high-quality doctors and hospitals was ranked as important to 95% of those who had already retired and by 100% of pre-retirees.

Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Greenville, SC.