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What's Next for Baby Boomers?

So much focus is on Millennials these days, but what about the Baby Boomers? They're still the largest and wealthiest consumer group in America, with the most buying power in our country's history. They represent 40% of the consumer demand, and thanks to Millennial children they're Internet-savvy. Many are still caretakers for their elderly parents and preparing for their own retirement, so they’re impacting the economy in many ways. What can we expect to see in the future for the generation that remembers when individual landlines were a luxury? Let's take a look.

Rule #1: Don't call Baby Boomers "seniors." They're younger, cooler, and know how to leave embarrassing messages on your social media. And as countless pictures of protests from the '60s will indicate, they're not afraid of change either. They love the convenience of the Internet for online shopping and booking travel, and they like to spoil their children and grandchildren with gifts. They're also spending more on healthcare as they age.

Pictured: A Lennar home at the 55-plus community Victory at Verrado in Arizona

Baby Boomers are divided into two groups: leading edge (those born between 1946 and 1955) and trailing edge (between 1956 and 1964). The leading edge are already retiring or preparing for it. In fact, roughly 10,000 are turning 65 each day and on average 10,000 are retiring each day. But this generation is changing the face of retirement. Some are choosing to stay put, and many are opting for a "phased retirement," which involves going part-time or changing career paths. In fact, the 50-plus age group is becoming one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in the nation.

Pictured: Pocket neighborhood Rose Villa in Portland, OR

Boomers are also changing the definition of the "retirement home." Rather than the old school assisted living facilities, they're looking at different options—most of which involve kicking out their Millennial offspring and downsizing. Many are deciding to "age in place," remodeling homes with features like wide halls for wheelchairs, radiant floor heating, shower benches and grab bars to accommodate them as they age. They prefer "bistro living," refusing to compromise on luxury as they downsize. Baby Boomers also like walkable areas in affordable cities, not just in the Sun Belt.

Pictured: Sacramento Street Senior Homes, a co-housing community in Sacramento, CA

Developers are accommodating this new trend by converting developments into "active living" facilities and "pocket neighborhoods" where Baby Boomers can continue their lifestyle while living in a community with their peers. Rose Villa in Portland is undergoing a $40M renovation, adding a restaurant and a wellness center with a pool and yoga studio. Lennar Corp created a $1.1B JV to build 55-plus neighborhoods in 25 US cities. Alliance Residential is designing mixed-age buildings with smaller affordable units for Millennials, and spacious apartments for Baby Boomers. Still, some Boomers are getting creative, with trends like “co-housing,” a term for complexes with neighbors who share amenities and look out for each other.

Pictured: A Macaray home at Lennar Corp's 55-plus community Victory at Verrado in Arizona