A review of online materials on the amenities desired by seniors in a
retirement home yields consistent results across sources.
Most developers as well as those who have conducted formal research on
the topic, agree that the new baby boomer retirees want more
amenities than have previous generations and that those desired
amenities reflect a more active lifestyle among this new generation of
The headline of a syndicated news story sums it up: Seniors: Today's
'Younger' Buyers Want More Amenities. They are e more driven by
fitness, are younger of mind and have different buying habits. They
want indoor pools, free weights, walking trails,
homes wired for the new technology such as Internet and access for a
In turn, retirement communities are changing to reflect these new
The retirement home preferences of retirees have changed significantly
in recent years
Retirees now opt for single-family detached homes in well-planned
communities that include golf, fitness centers, jogging/hiking/biking
trails and other amenities that provide ample opportunity for varied
That clubhouse can still provide for games like pool and
shuffleboard, but they had better also include computer stations where
residents can log onto the Internet, if they dont have that
capability in their own unit. The development should allow rapid
Internet access if it is to be competitive with other senior
communities. Retirees also like to customize their new homes and floor
plans through a design center.
With the growing use of the Internet among seniors, high- capacity
telecommunications wiring and other smart-home features are becoming
basic features rather than upgrades.
Going back to school and volunteering for worthy organizations is also
high on the list of things to do after moving to a retirement
Seniors generally look for comfort, independence, companionship,
security and freedom from responsibility. They want a home environment
that offers a selection of senior-friendly activities and enough
independence to allow them to travel with a feeling of security about
their home. Some amenities include pools, media center, fitness
center, spacious clubhouse, community room and a conference business
Building for Boomers
Developers of retirement communities discuss the new amenities.
In the past, golf was the driving factor in many peoples' decisions to
live in Sun City. There, residents' interests have shifted to other
activities such as hiking, computers, photography and guns. "We just
opened an arts and craft center. From computers to ceramic to
painting, you name it, we've got it."
Computers draw a big crowd
Computers are becoming a big thing at Sun City Vistoso, too. Plans are
under way to build a computer center with 10 workstations. The
community's computer club is the single biggest interest behind golf,
real estate broker.
Sun City's hiking club - 350 members strong - is another popular
Even communities that cater to older retirees have to offer their
"The activity level of these people has just increased," said Tom
Kappler, general manager of Broadway Proper, where the average age is
The rental community southwest of South Pantano Road and East Broadway
recently installed a gym, buffed up exercise programs and works with
neighborhood youth to train residents on computers.
According to research by the Arizona Daily Star amenities favored by
older homebuyers in retirement communities include:
Trails for walking, hiking and biking.
Recreation centers with exercise equipment and health spas.
Flexible home space for studies and offices.
Educational facilities, including computers labs and reading rooms.
Retail shops and restaurants onsite or nearby.
Arts and entertainment
Continuing education is a prime goal for many retirees, and they want
education facilities in retirement communities.
Fifty-seven percent of retired boomers and 58 percent of
still-working boomers said they prefer a small home in a community
with recreational amenities to a large home in a traditional
neighborhood, according to the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at
ASU and Del Webb Corp.
The Christian Science Monitor took a look at new trends in retirement
housing in an article Boomers refuse to fade into the sunset: A
generation begins to redefine "golden years" and retirement housing on
its own terms, by staff writer Marilyn Gardner.
She reviewed the 2000 three-day symposium, "Building for Boomers and
Beyond," s sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders
where nearly 400 architects, developers, builders, and interior-design
specialists gathered to consider ways to appeal to a generation that
promises to redefine retirement and reshape retirement housing.
Some highlights from that article:
Amenities abound in the $7-million Adobe Spa and Fitness Center.
Forget shuffleboard courts. Think tennis courts, softball leagues and
Many older people really love gardening," Dychtwald says. "You're
going to see communities with a horticultural focus, with acres of
gardens that residents themselves will grow."
Cozy. Casual. Convenient. Those sum up the style many younger
retirees want, according to Ava Carberry of Color Design Art in
Pacific Palisades, Calif.
They want spacious kitchens, walk-in closets, double sinks, bedrooms
that can be converted to other uses, and storage.
An Illinois-based company intends has opened 166-unit luxury
retirement apartment complex where residents get three gourmet meals
daily prepared by a European-trained chef, weekly housekeeping,
concierge and limousine service, 24-hour on-site security, utilities
and basic cable television.
Common areas cover 143,000 square feet and include a swimming
pool, putting green, skin and body spa, fitness center, full-service
beauty salon, cards and billiards room, arts and crafts program,
library with a fireplace and seating area and a business center with
Active Adults' Favorite Amenities
A 1996 NAHB (National Association of Homebuilders) survey looks at the
features that active adults want. [Look for the results of a new study
to be released in the next few months.]
Walking and jogging trails were the most desirable amenity, with
roughly two-thirds of active adults and older seniors saying their
presence would seriously influence the home-buying decision. This is
not unique to the seniors market however, as overall responses from
survey participants were very similar.
Park areas could influence the buying decision of about half of the
active adults and older seniors households. However, this is less than
the 65 percent score given by all survey respondents.
Security is important to all seniors, more so than for other age
groups. While one-third of the survey participants would be influenced
by having a security guard at a gate, the number jumps to over 40
percent for both active adults and older seniors.
Outdoor swimming pools are also important, but their desirability
appears to decrease with the age of the householder. Almost half of
the survey respondents were in favor of an outdoor swimming pool, but
this number drops to about 40 percent for active adults, and one-third
for older seniors.
Public transportation is a sought-after amenity. The relationship
between public transportation and age works in the opposite direction
from that with outdoor swimming pools, as older households are more
likely to desire public transportation. 44 percent of older seniors
and 40 percent of active adults would be influenced by the presence of
public transportation, compared to 34 percent of those in the overall
Lakes were as attractive to active adults as they were to the overall
survey group. Both groups gave identical ratings to lakes (40%).
Somewhat surprisingly, older seniors felt differently, with only 29
percent rating lakes as desirable.
Clubhouses are another amenity that is important to all seniors.
Roughly one-third of each seniors group said that a clubhouse would
influence their decision, while only a quarter of the overall group
wanted a clubhouse.
An exercise room was desirable to about one-third of each group.
Golf courses were slightly more desirable to seniors than other age
groups. Twenty-nine percent of active adults and 27 percent of older
seniors favored a golf course, compared to 23 percent of all survey
Card-operated gates without a guard reinforce the idea that seniors
value security. Thirty-five percent of older seniors and 29 percent of
active adults would be influenced by the presence of a card-operated
gate, versus 21 percent of all survey respondents.
Not surprisingly, there were several amenities that were not at all
important to seniors. These were mostly outdoor sports facilities.
Baseball and soccer fields, equestrian facilities, basketball and
racquetball courts, and daycare centers received scores from both
groups of less than 10 percent.
The NAHB Research Center provides senior housing information through
its National Center for Seniors Housing Research,
Suggestions on what to look for when choosing a residential facility
from senior-oriented organizations;
This list is taken from Age Concern Fact sheet 29 " Finding
Residential and Nursing Home Accommodation" available from Age
Concern. It is an excellent fact sheet covering a wide range of issues
relating to residential and nursing homes.
What To Look For When Choosing A Retirement Home
by Lisa M. Petsche
Search strategy: retirement housing amenities; retirement homes
options; retirement communities want; retirement housing want; NAHB;
NAHBRC; AARP; aging housing; senior housing; senior housing amenities