Active adult communities are one of the biggest trends in real estate. These neighborhoods, designed specifically to appeal and cater to retirees, are popping up all over the country and in some cases house thousands of residents. Here in Charlotte, there are over two dozen active adult communities and growing.
In a nutshell, active adult communities provide for independent living (i.e. no “assistance”) with a variety of community-accessible amenities. In most cases, these communities require a high percentage of residents to be 55+, hence their nickname “55 and Older Neighborhoods.” Why do people buy in these neighborhoods? Because they offer a community vibe, ready-made peers, and luxury amenities that would be hard to come by otherwise.
Speaking of amenities, which amenities are trending among 55+ communities? At Hendrix Properties, we stay plugged into what’s going on in the Active Adult living in Charlotte. Here are some of the most interesting things we’ve seen:
What the heck is a lifestyle amenity? It’s a growing trend among particularly “happening” active adult communities designed to create a small town feel within the neighborhood. Lifestyle amenities can include anything from massive clubhouses to on-site restaurants to “hobby areas” for activities like painting or playing cards. Lifestyle-specific communities can cater to a specific lifestyle such as an equestrian lifestyle (stables and riding trails) or a culinary lifestyle (cooking classes, professional shared kitchen).
Are greenspaces the new golf courses? Maybe! Some research says that more than any other amenity, “natural” spaces are a draw to new homebuyers. In the active adult sphere, this can come in many forms: a greenway, graded walking trails, dog runs, and even community gardens. Older Americans value their time spent outdoors and see these amenities as a way to engage with other residents informally and spontaneously.
Themed active adult communities may just be the next big thing. Of course, golf-centric communities have always been popular among retirees, but branded active adult properties are catching on. In fact, the second of two Jimmy Buffet-themed active adult communities recently opened in Hilton Head (Latitude Margaritaville) offering a ‘festive retail center’ complete with grocery stores and entertainment venues. Other themed communities include those designed specifically for Indian Americans, LGBT retirees, and even Hippies!
Today’s seniors are more aware than ever of their environmental impact. Some communities and more specifically, some home builders, are taking that concern one step further. Popular active adult designs by Shea Homes incorporate “green” features like a solar power system and bamboo flooring to minimize the resident’s impact.
There’s a reason retirees move to Florida! Here in the Charlotte area, Denver’s Trilogy Lake Norman pre-sold dozens of homes before opening last year, and Lake Wylie-adjacent Carolina Orchards is also proving popular. Home buyers from inside and outside the Carolinas (and other sun-soaked destinations) are pouring into active adult communities to take advantage of vacation-like amenities such as on-site marinas, pool complexes, and indoor-outdoor amenities shared by all residents.
Residents of today’s active adult communities are downsizing, simplifying, and looking for an easier life. We’ll continue to see amenities like in-town shuttle buses, grandchild-friendly playscapes, and private security. What should we expect more of? It will be interesting to see how many developers invest in attached homes for 55+ (townhomes) and how in-home tech will change the scope of Boomers’ homes.