Listen Up! . . . Boomers And Seniors Need Housing Too!

Boomer lifestyles are very different from earlier generations of seniors.

It’s not just millennials (also known as Gen Y) who are experiencing the failings of the housing market. The boomer generation has challenges too. Those of us who already own may be stuck in family homes that no longer meet our needs and they tie up one helluva lot of capital. That sounds like a good problem to have but there are a number of reasons we cannot sell and move into accommodation that is more conducive to our lifestyle.

The primary obstacle to boomers selling and downsizing is that there are no available homes that meet our specific needs.

Baby boomers are the healthiest generation in history. At an age when former generations were moving into assisted living or nursing homes, boomers are active, relatively healthy and for the most part financially independent. Our lifestyles require the type of accommodation that is difficult to find. The 835 sq. ft. itty-bitty condos they’re building in the GTA (Greater Toronto area) will never do. We still want to enjoy gardening, a front porch, backyard barbecuing, and no cramping.

Ontario is building approximately 150,000 new homes each year but with immigration and changing demographics we need twice that amount. The problem has been compounded by the lack of skilled trades in the construction industry. While young people have been encouraged to go to university to pursue dead-end careers in gender studies, there has been an enormous decades-long gap in filling high-paying, secure jobs as electricians, carpenters, plumbers, roofers, masons, and other trades.

Should we move to Florida?

Florida has built entire communities devoted to retirement living with recreation facilities, banks, hospitals, shopping, and restaurants within the community.

Florida is awash in suitable, affordable accommodation for seniors. Entire communities and low-rise condo complexes cater to retired seniors who still live an active lifestyle and participate in social, recreational, sports, and other activities.

If I didn’t need our Canadian universal healthcare, I’d move to Florida. (They could definitely use a few more liberal-minded voters there too.) Despite the government’s rampant disfunction in so may areas, they got the seniors’ housing thing right.

12 Things Florida Developers Have Done Right

Some of the features of those retirement community houses that work so perfectly for us include:

  1. Bungalow with no basement to collect junk and no stairs to negotiate.
  2. Two-car garage for vehicles, golf clubs, and other accumulated crap.
  3. Huge walk-in closet in master bedroom. Boomers have lots of clothes.
  4. Double-sinks, large shower with grab-bar and full-size linen closet in master bath.
  5. Open concept livingroom, kitchen and dining area large enough to seat six people comfortably or eight in a pinch for dinner.
  6. Large, efficiently-layed-out kitchen with plenty of cupboards, a pantry, and island. Some of us still enjoy cooking and entertaining.
  7. Laundry room off kitchen, leading to garage.
  8. Den off livingroom for hubby’s office, La-Z-boys and sports-only big-screen television.
  9. Three bedrooms. Master and two guest bedrooms, one of which could be turned into her den/office. Our generation seems to need separate His and Hers spaces.
  10. Separate guest bathroom which is handy for the extra traffic when we host cocktail hour.
  11. Full landscaping services and exterior painting included in monthly maintenance fee.
  12. Community activity centre for dances, theatre, craft shows, workout facilities, and hobby classes.
More please! And don’t delay.

That’s my shopping list of requirements for any builders or developers who may be reading this.

There are similar styles of homes being built in Ontario but far too few and too late, Because of land costs, they’re usually in rural communities that require a two-hour drive to cancer centres, major hospitals and specialists at a time in life when we most need these services to be handy.

There is a serious shortage of doctors and health care in small communities to attend to seniors. I would happily move to a smaller community in a heartbeat if I could be sure of having local healthcare but provincial governments have consistently dropped the ball on this issue. Smaller communities lack the infrastructure to support large communities of seniors. That is a fixable problem if the variuous levels of government would get behind it.

Lynda’s solution to everything

In March 2022 I posted a piece titled “Is It Time To Return To Wartime Housing?”That article suggested various ways of addressing the need for appropriate seniors’ housing and I suggest you open the link and read it. Manufactured homes could meet some of the requirements and perhaps governments should consider supporting the construction of a modern version of wartime-style housing to meet seniors’ needs.

It takes a village to build a village but governments need to dig in right away. We’re already behind schedule.

It’s time to put some brains and creativity into high gear here. The problem is not going away and will only get worse. If and when the type of accommodation we boomers need finally materializes, we will be too old and will need assisted living (or worse) by then. Another big problem for another day.

Gen X will be following soon behind and we’re hoping they have the imagination and initiative to motivate the system and governments to develop better housing programs. Otherwise, they could be stuck with our generation moving in with them, and we’re inclined to think that’s incentive enough to do something. The question is, when, and who is going to git ‘er done?


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2 months ago

Milton is the fastest growing area in Ontario and yet the builders just go for bigger homes on teeny lots, or townhomes with multiple levels, neither of which are suitable for seniors.
London Ontario on the other hand has built and continues to, build bungalow style townhomes with pretty much everything on your list.
As much as I have ties to London, I am not ready to leave my town of Milton.
The friends I have made here are too hard to leave at this point in my life.

Gail Czopka
Gail Czopka
2 months ago

Definitely a great idea 💡 Our choice was to downsize 15 years but settled for a condo in the same neighborhood as we had our house. It’s a small building but was built when a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom plus den was over 1300 square feet and affordable! We are close to all the amenities including living in the city. But my choice would have been a small bungalow, no basement & a maintenance fee for upkeep in the city.