Oct 28, 2023 - Real Estate

Luxury senior living moves into hot Chicago suburbs

rooftop sky deck at luxury senior building

Rooftop lounge and pool area at Avidor Evanston. Photo: Courtesy of High Street Residential

More Chicagoland senior communities look like modern luxury apartments — including a resort pool with cabanas, sometimes filled with grandkids.

Why it matters: America is going gray. Baby boomers and their kids make up a growing share of the country's population, according to census data.

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 Kirksey Architecture tells Axios.

Zoom in: Everleigh Vernon Hills opened this summer near the popular Mellody Farm shopping and dining district, offering an outdoor kitchen, EV charging stations and art studio, among other perks and sleek apartment finishes.

  • Rents range from $2,240 for a one-bedroom to over $5,000 for a two-bedroom at Avidor Evanston, which boasts a yoga garden, rooftop, pet wash and private liquor lockers.

Some businesses are even fully moving inside these communities.

What they're saying: Moving into one of the 17 glossy pads the Evanston building sets aside as affordable housing was a no-brainer for former resident Alan Salmi.

  • The downtown location was a big plus, he says: Close to the farmer's market, library and restaurants, with easy access to the L.
grill and poolside seating area at senior community
Poolside kitchen and green space at Avidor Glenview. Photo: Courtesy of High Street Residential

Between the lines: Our 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.

Reality check: 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.

  • Steep housing costs especially burden Americans on fixed incomes, contributing to rising homelessness among baby boomers, The Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Most Chicago renters age 65 and older spend at least 30% of their income on housing, per census figures.
Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

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 the Chicago area was 56 in 2021, according to the report.

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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