Aging (and Thriving) in Place: Manufactured Housing and Baby Boomers

20 / 06 / 2019

By Steven Townsend

News flash: Almost one out of every five Americans will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030. (Yes, really.) And while Baby Boomers might be greying, they’re still as active (or even more so!) than their kids as they head off on far-flung retirement adventures, learn to kayak or attend Rolling Stones concerts—just like they did 40 years prior.

All these activities mean that Baby Boomers no longer have the need—or, let’s face it, desire—to take care of large homes now that their nests have emptied out. And as manufactured housing design options have expanded over the past decade, Baby Boomers interested in scaling down are learning that prefab housing is a perfect way to lose unnecessary square footage without cutting the quality or stylishness they’ve come to appreciate in more traditional site-built homes.

Trying to convince your parents that they should finally get a new place, or itching to show a potential buyer why the manufactured homes of today are nothing like those from the 60s and 70s? The points below will help to turn their heads.

1. Downsizing without Sacrificing: With children out of the house, Baby Boomers are finding more and more that all those extra bedrooms just lead to a whole lot of unwanted extra clutter and dust. The solution? Downsize to a space that fits your current needs—not those of 30 years ago. 12 percent of home buyers between the ages of 45 and 64 were downsizing in 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors, with prefab homes an increasingly popular option for retired professionals who don’t want a hefty new mortgage or to pay a landlord. By customizing your own manufactured home—not just taking whatever’s on the market—it’s possible to think smaller while still thinking big when it comes to your priorities, whether that’s a garden, elegant master suite or playroom for when the grandkids come to visit.

2. Aging in Place: A 2010 AARP survey found that 88 percent of respondents over age 65 wanted to remain in their homes for as long as possible, and 92 percent said they wanted to remain in their communities. Unlike site-built homes that are often chocked full of issues for aging residents—steep stairs, bathrooms prone to slip-and-falls—manufactured homes can be constructed with a lifetime of safety in mind. Medically-necessary updates or housing renovations can prove to be costly, particularly in older homes, while a prefab house can more easily carry a person through all stages of their retirement years.

3. No Need to Learn a New Real Estate Market: Many Baby Boomers are planning on moving to a new city after retirement to be closer to their children (and, more importantly, grandchildren). The thought of learning all the ins and outs of a new housing market, though, is exhausting—much less getting into a bidding war over a condo that you’re only half-hearted about in the first place. Creating your own, customized manufactured home means you’ll get the house of your dreams without all the real estate headaches associated with house hunting.

4. Community Centers? Yep, That’s an Option: Isolation often becomes a problem as people age, and it’s well known that having a strong social circle ensures a long, healthy life. Community is already central to prefab housing life for thousands of Baby Boomers, and freshly constructed groups of manufactured homes are frequently called “land lease communities.” These spaces offer a wide range of additional amenities beyond helpful neighbors who are also retiring in style, and community centers are at the heart of it. These common areas may offer everything from beauty salons, to game nights, to book clubs and more as a way of connecting with those around you and building new friendships.

5. Safety First (and Second, and Third): Baby Boomers might be skeptical at first about manufactured housing because of the stereotypes surrounding mobile homes that took hold in the middle part of the 20th Century. Fortunately, in today’s industry, these couldn’t be further from the truth. Ensuring that all prefab homes are safe and healthy environments is the top priority for companies, with guidelines far more stringent than most new, site-built home constructions. Learn more about federal regulations for all manufactured houses through the Housing and Urban Development website.

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