Baby Boomers: Who Needs to Downsize?

May 22, 2019

A growing number of baby boomers are choosing not to downsize in retirement. Instead, they’re opting to remain in the homes where they raised their children, USA Today reports. But their reluctance to move is contributing to low inventory across the country, says realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale.

Baby boomers “have refused to follow what the traditional expectations were,” Barbara Risman, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told USA Today. Baby boomers, mostly between the ages of 54 to 73, are working longer and, therefore, putting retirement off longer than previous generations. Their millennial children are also increasingly living at home with them and staying well into adulthood.

Baby boomers also may be struggling to find a smaller home to move into. Housing analysts have pointed to a dire housing shortage of less expensive entry-level homes—the type downsizing baby boomers could be seeking. The shortage has caused home prices to increase, and that may be erasing some of the incentive to downsize, housing analysts say.

Fifty-two percent of baby boomers say they’ll never move from their current home, according to a Chase Bank survey of 753 boomer homeowners conducted this year. Separately, 43% of 45- to 65-year-olds say they plan to remain in their current home through retirement, according to a 2017 Ipsos/USA Today poll.

About 20% of Americans 65 and older are working or looking for jobs, up from 12.1% in 1996, according to Labor Department data. “Baby boomers don’t want to become old in a way that has negative connotations,” Risman says. “Remaining in one’s old house is part of remaining in the prime of one’s life longer.”

And downsizing may be losing its appeal. For baby boomers who do plan to move, 43% say they want their next home to be the same size as their current one. Twenty-two percent say they want their next home to be even larger, according to a January survey of 50- and 60-year-olds by Del Webb.