Baby boomers are redefining what their “golden years” will look like. Here are some the latest trends in retirement lifestyles.
As one of the largest and healthiest generations of seniors in history, baby boomers are redefining retirement. Gone are the days when individuals would leave the workforce at 62 and move to Arizona or Florida to play golf or stay in the family dwelling until illness forces a move into a nursing home. Advances in medicine and an increasing reliance on personal savings to fund retirement have led to boomers staying employed longer while boomer divorce rates have created a demand for alternative living arrangements for single seniors. Here are some of the latest trends in retirement lifestyles.
“Golden Girls” Revisited
The popular 80’s television show, “The Golden Girls,” featured four single, “mature” women living together in Miami. Just as rising housing costs in many big cities as forcing millennials to have roommates, there is a retirement trend of seniors, especially single ones, looking at co-living arrangements to find affordable housing and ward off loneliness. Steve Lindsey, CEO of the Pennsylvania retirement community, “Garden Spot Village,” created a “co-living house” – Thistledown – to provide affordable senior housing. Thistledown features homes with private bathrooms and bedrooms for five individuals with a shared kitchen, dining room, living room and laundry. While Garden Spot owns the homes, residents pay up to 30% of their income for rent on a sliding scale which includes cable and maintenance. A social worker is also available to help residents deal with conflicts that often arise with roommates. According to CEO Lindsey, “we’ve really begun to lose touch of what it means to be connected with your neighbors, to know the people who live around you, to be involved in their lives. There are moments when the (residents) are not feeling super social and they go to their rooms and shut the doors. But there is something comforting about knowing that there is someone in the living room.”
One of the biggest retirement living trends is the idea of working beyond the traditional retirement age. According to the US Census Bureau, over a quarter of adults age 60 and older were employed in the US with over a third of older adults in larger cities continuing to work. While some are delaying retirement from traditional jobs, others are retiring and then returning to take part time positions. Retailers such as Costco and Home Depot are hiring retirees to work as cashiers, demonstrate products and hand out food samples as they can connect with older customers. “One of the hottest areas is in-home elder care,” says Tim Driver, CEO and founder of RetirementJobs.com. “You are rewarded for being closer in age to the person you are caring for.” The tourism industry is also popular with seniors as they work as tour guides, concierges or museum docents. Employers find that retirees are open to a more flexible schedule than younger workers and often have a stronger work ethnic and better communication skills.
While many retirees are finding satisfaction from part time jobs at home, one of the newest trends in retirement lifestyles is to combine employment with travel – working short term jobs as a way to see the country. In her bestselling book, “Nomadland,” Jessica Bruder writes about ‘”senior nomads” – individuals in their 50’s and 60’s that live in RV’s, trailers and vans, driving across the country to do seasonal work such as harvesting beets, flipping burgers at spring training in Arizona, acting as summer campground hosts in national parks and packing orders in Amazon warehouses.
Inspired by her daughter Nicole’s experience on cruise ships, Genia Seghetti left her business career to start Mountain Girl Adventures whose moto is “an amazing life doesn’t just happen, you create it one adventure at a time.” In the past six years, Genia has traveled throughout the West, working such diverse positions as head of household for a ranch in Jackson, Wyoming; a shop and retail manager for 4x Iditarod Champion Jeff King in Alaska and as a chef in Montana, Utah and Wyoming. While her adventures allow plenty of time to enjoy hiking and kayaking, what Genia really enjoys is “exploring new places. It has been so much fun to see the diversity of landscape that the US offers. I also enjoy meeting people from all over the world. In many ways, the crew and guests become like an extended family.”
Genia often finds her adventures through a site for seasonal workers – Coolworks.com – and says that “getting a seasonal job at my age is so much easier than going the traditional route. Since my initial discovery of Coolworks.com, I have found several other seasonal job sites such as the Dude Association and Ranchworks.com.” Genia encourages those that want to pursue their passion for adventure and become what she calls a fellow ‘traveler’, to have a clearly defined set of criteria for their seasonal job expectations, conduct due diligence on potential employers and have a back-up plan in case a position doesn’t work out. “A seasonal job will offer you the opportunity to discover your passions, your place in life and who your people are. While living, working and playing in amazing places you will meet people from all walks of life, from all over the world and your life will be wondrously changed through those connections. Be brave and courageous, it’s easier and far more rewarding than you can imagine. “
Through experimenting with new living arrangements, staying in the work force longer and finding creative ways to travel, baby boomers are redefining retirement lifestyles. If you are inspired to explore alternatives to a traditional retirement, more information is below.