Today, many people talk about looking for, wanting, finding, or remaining in their forever home. Many use this exact expression – forever home – while others use different terms to mean the same thing. They call it their permanent home, their long-term home, or they don’t label it at all. Instead, they discuss aging in place or not wanting to move or planning on it, and their home just happens to be the key player in their pursuit of aging in place.
It’s interesting how we got to this point. The American landscape has changed dramatically in the last half-century. Going back fifty years, and for many ensuing years in this country, people were moving into a different home (new construction, existing home, or a rental) an average of every five years. We were a very mobile population. People were moving away from the urban centers into the suburbs. At the same time, a lesser number of people actually were moving the opposite direction to the urban cores as downtown and multi-use redevelopment was occurring. As manufacturing centers changed and declined and as we became more of a technology and service-oriented economy, people began moving from the Northeast and Midwest to the South, the Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest. One-fifth of the population (twenty percent) was moving each year.
Today, people are still moving, but frequently that move is closer to where they started – in the same town or area. Nevertheless, the number of people moving or changing residences is much less than it has been. Whereas the thought of remaining in the same home for a dozen years or longer appealed to some people in the recent past, it wasn’t the norm. Now it is, with over half of the American population living in their current home for over a dozen years. Aging is place is real, regardless of anyone’s present age!
Two major factors driving the desire to find and remain in a forever home are the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. The Boomers are actually the ones driving the aging in place movement with their desire to remain living where they are and to stay out of nursing or retirement facilities. Many already have identified their forever home and are happily living in it now. Others are searching for their final home to remain in for the duration.
As for the Millennials, they are remapping the way Americans shop for homes. They represent the largest homebuying segment in this country although they are getting a relatively later start at home purchasing than previous generations. Nevertheless, Millennials are doing a tremendous amount of online research (because they have the knowledge and interest to do this) to find the exact home they want – new or existing.
They are picking a home with the expressed purpose of it serving their needs long-term, and many are even identifying this as their forever home even though it is their first one. Millennials also are bypassing the so-called smaller starter home. Historically, people would purchase a home just to begin building equity and to actually get into home ownership. They got what they could afford at the time knowing that as their income grew and they figured out more about what features they would use in a home that could move into another home and then eventually one or two others after that. Now, Millennials are going all-in, so-to-speak, for their forever home that is larger and more expensive than what a first home would have been in the past. As a result, many of them won’t need to replace it a few years down the road because they purchased for a longer-term need initially.
Having a forever home is now becoming quite popular and a commonly used expression. Real estate agents are helping people find such a home – using these words. On TV shows that focus on renovation or relocation, consumers are talking about achieving their forever home. Many people, especially at a younger age, may not consciously equate their forever home with aging in place, but this is exactly what is occurring. Essentially, they don’t want to move or foresee the need to do so. They are acquiring the home they will remain in for the rest of their lives, and they are comfortable that their home has the capability to age well with them.