In subsequent posts on this blog, I will share insights from the book, from our research, and from the developers, architects, planners, designers, authors and Harvard professors who contributed their ideas on how we can do a better job building homes in high-density communities specifically for Boomers.
Introduction: Boomers huge influence on future multi-res
The Boomers decided, en masse, that their new puppies needed a premium and polite place to piddle. As a result, the guy who invented Wee-Wee Pads to soak up pampered pet pee was suddenly worth millions of dollars. I am not making this up. He has a private plane, and homes in NYC and L.A.
The Boomers decided Gilligan’s Island was a great TV show, and we are still watching reruns. What cognizant North American over the age of 12 can’t hum or whistle the opening credits to the Three-Hour-Tour theme song? (Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip . . .)
The Boomers thought ordering fast food through their car window without having to find a parking spot was super-convenient. Drive-through windows instantly appeared to provide burgers, ice cream and tacos. Since then, all your wildest drive-through window dreams (Funeral Parlor! Sex Shop! Law Firm! Liquor Store! Flu Shots!) have come true because of the enormous influence of the Boomer consumer.
It’s old news: Boomers are the single most impactful generation on culture, business, religion, sex, money, politics, and pretty much everything else you can imagine . . . including housing. When the Boomers decide to head in a particular direction we all get sucked along in their enormous wake, or get left behind dealing with the vacuum created.
At the moment, the advance scouting parties from the massive Boomer tribe are starting to move away from single-family homes in leafy-green suburbs, which have been their much-loved natural habitat for decades. Many of these first-out-of-the-gate Boomers – too many to ignore – are choosing to live in Multi Family Homes (MFH): condominium towers, townhomes, or apartments. Many of these MFH are located in dense urban environments: at transit nodes, in city centres, and in redeveloped so-called garden-city complexes.
There are a lot of Boomers headed our way. A lot. We know how to build MFH for some of them, but not for most of them. Our industry is very complicated, and requires so much specialized knowledge, no one person could ever hope to find the right answer.
Is it too soon to predict where the bulk of the Boomers will choose to live next?
Are these first-movers mere outliers, or are they accurate indicators of how the Boomer biomass will behave in the coming years?
If higher-density neighborhoods and MFH are where the Boomer homing beacons are pointed, what do we need to do to get ready for them?
What are we doing already? What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong?
Those of us who make a living in the housing and development sector must try to predict the Boomers’ next move with accuracy, and figure out what they want before they arrive. Where the Boomers decide to live, and why, and when, will shape our professional and financial lives for decades to come.
Oh, and something very important to note as you think about the impact a mass Boomer migration will have on your real estate development company, marketing and sales group, consultancy firm, or architectural partnership: as more and more Boomers retire, our companies are largely run by non-Boomers. Be careful of age bias.
You should understand the filter I’m saddled with. I started consuming products on this planet in 1965. This means I could be categorized as Boomer-Cusp. If I think about my life-defining milestones, the bi-generational label fits nicely. I have one foot in the Boomer camp, and the other firmly planted on Generation X soil: I’m a double-agent. Keep that duality in mind while you read the words in my Boomer-related posts.
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