Nov 28, 2023 - Real Estate

Luxury senior living moves into hot Austin neighborhoods

Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Aiming to win older empty nesters, Austin apartment developers are now including spas and libraries.

Why it matters: More senior communities look like modern luxury apartments.

Driving the news: America is going gray. Baby boomers and their kids make up a growing share of the country's population, according to Census Bureau data.

  • In greater Austin, the share of renter households that are 55 or older has hopped from 11.1% in 2005 to 17.6% last year.

What's happening: Apartment developers are courting empty nesters as young as 55 years old, dangling prime locations, easy living and amenities you'd expect at a five-star hotel, senior living expert James Hill with Houston-based Kirksey Architecture tells Axios.

Zoom in: In June, the Westminster, long home to former state senators and retired University of Texas professors, opened its third building, the Carlisle, replete with a day spa and restaurant.

Meanwhile: Suburban subdivisions like Tuscan Village, in Horseshoe Bay, continue to advertise access to golf courses and swimming pools.

Yes, but: Many senior citizens can't afford plush prices, says senior economist Lu Chen at Moody's Analytics, whose research shows rents for more traditional senior housing are climbing across the U.S.

Reality check: Steep housing costs especially burden Americans on fixed incomes, contributing to rising homelessness among baby boomers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Between the lines: Customers want a community that's social and active, says Jackie Rhone, an executive director at Greystar Real Estate Partners, which develops and manages "active adult" apartments nationwide and has plans to expand.

Zoom out: Walkability remains the biggest selling point for both old and young renters who have more luxury options to choose from.

  • "People are not going to come rent because they want your building. It's because they want to be in your neighborhood," Hill says.

The intrigue: Boomers comprise the largest slice of renters living alone in the U.S., as many ditched homeownership for a low-maintenance apartment, per a new report by RentCafe.

  • The average age of a solo renter in 2021 in Austin, per RentCafe, was 50.

What we're watching: Single-family rental homes. The hot suburban segment appeals to some older adults who want property management perks, but without neighbors on the other side of the wall.

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