The Reasons Behind Retiree Housing Changes

Older couple in front of housing option

It’s a life-altering milestone if ever there was one: the decision to move away from the family home. There have always been a variety of reasons why retirees and near-retirees choose to make the leap—with today’s head-spinning social changes certainly doing nothing to pare down that list. Deciding to change your housing situation often boils down to an intended (or already proceeding) lifestyle change. Since these are the very definitions of “personal” reasons, you might assume that since everyone’s situation differs, their motivations are all over the map—making them all but unclassifiable.

True enough—but it turns out that some generalizations are possible (and useful, if you are uncertain whether your own upcoming decision is an eccentric one). The hard information can be found in a singular statistical exhibit in this spring’s NAR® study, 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends. The exhibit is entitled “Primary Reason for Selling Previous Home”—one that should be more than relevant to the quickly expanding cohort of Baby Boomer retirees. The results reveal the respondent sellers’ motivations broken down by age. Here’s how the reasons for making a move is described by respondents between 56-74 years of age:

• 49% to be closer to friends or family
• 28% to move to a smaller home
• 26% due to retirement [okay-that’s not very enlightening!]
• 15% move from a neighborhood that has become less desirable
• 14% move to a larger home
• 11% move for maintenance reasons (health or financial)
• 8% because of job relocation
• 5% move closer to current job
• 4% other financial reasons
• 23% other reasons

Those results reinforce the common perception that as we near retirement, it’s often the case that anticipated financial and housing adjustments will dictate a change. But most of all, family and personal relationships wind up at the top of the list.