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More Senior Communities Are Getting Built In Nontraditional Places: Where The Kids Live

The gated entrance to the Ashby Ponds retirement community in Loudoun County, Va.

The senior housing market is changing with the times.

For decades, retirement communities were far more likely to be built in warmer climates, so as to avoid uncomfortable and possibly dangerous winters for residents. But in recent years, the industry has seen a seismic shift to areas with more traditional population density, the New York Times reports.

Senior citizens and their adult children have demonstrated a stronger desire to live near each other, prompting more development of retirement communities in infill areas close to major population centers. The Times cited Northern New Jersey and the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., as particular hot spots.

Erickson Living, which owns 20 senior housing developments and has seven more under development, has been focusing on such infill locations, and the ones that are likely to be so in the future. Erickson started building Ashby Ponds in Virginia's Loudoun County in 2008, when it was not considered a densely populated area, an Erickson representative told the Times. But it has found success with seniors who consider it close enough for visits from their D.C.-area children.

Though senior housing spent the past few years in a value decline, it could be poised to make a comeback thanks to rising home values making seniors more comfortable with selling, according to a Marcus & Millichap study as reported by the Times. Though the industry has been dogged by questions about oversupply, the entry into nontraditional areas could be an antidote for the market.

Even with years of declining value and supply outpacing demand, the market is still there to build new senior housing, thanks to an influx of capital that began around the time of the last recession, Watermark Retirement Communities Chairman David Freshwater told the Times. The ever-present need for senior housing, especially as baby boomers begin to age into it, makes it a sector resistant to market instability.