Some Empty Nesters Looking Back to the City

Most of the 75 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. have now sent their children off into the world, and some are considering a move out of their suburban homes and back to urban areas. Maintaining large homes becomes less appealing and more difficult as homeowners age, and once the children are out of the house there is less of a need for having so much space.

Some wealthier boomers decide to sell their expensive homes and in turn purchase two smaller homes—one a primary residence and one a pied-a-terre near their grandchildren so that they can see them more often without being a burden on their children. According to New Home Source, approximately 40 percent of Baby Boomers will move, and they are expected to spend $1.9 trillion on home purchases in the next five years.

Urban areas are also drawing in Baby Boomers who are looking to be closer to entertainment and restaurants. They may also be looking to become less car-dependent as they grow older. This move to the city interests not only older couples, but those who are divorced and looking for a fresh start somewhere with more activity. In Atlanta, those 60 and older currently make up 10 percent of the population, but this number is expected to double by 2030, according to Gracie Bonds Staples of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The maintenance-free lifestyle of urban apartments and condos is one of the bigger draws of moving back to the city as an empty nester. Information from TenantCloud shows that almost one-third of applications for urban apartments are for renters age 60 and over. Amenities like doormen and elevators make the aging process easier, and community amenities allow for more socialization than single-family homes. Additionally, cooking meals can be optional with so many dining options close by. These conveniences make urban living increasingly appealing to older generations.

55 and up communities are beginning to rebrand themselves as “active adult” communities to attract those who don’t necessarily want the stigma that comes with moving to a community geared towards the elderly. Ben Schachter of Signature Real Estate Companies, which manages 26 real estate brands in the senior housing market, argues that “the word ‘senior’ tends to lend itself more to an older clientele being sleepier, quieter. We’re trying to stimulate and play off of their desire to live longer and healthier, more energetic and vibrant lives.” In a survey conducted by, among those over age 55 who were planning to move within 12 months, about 10 percent of respondents said they were extremely likely and 14 percent said they were very likely to move to an active adult community. These communities attract their residents by giving them the ability to keep an independent lifestyle while simultaneously offering social and recreational opportunities with others in the same community and age group.