The Sunshine State is about to boom with Boomers.
Between 2010 and 2030, Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are expected to descend on Florida in even larger numbers and will increase their standing as the state’s largest age group. The reason: They are nearing retirement age, the state’s housing prices have become more affordable and Florida’s tropical climate remains a draw.
“I enjoy warm weather and I want to be close to the beach,” said Frank Moschiano, 50, who on Thursday moved from Albuquerque, N.M., into a two-bedroom condominium in Fort Lauderdale. “The social and professional opportunities in Fort Lauderdale are huge. The real estate prices kept dropping and dropping. … It made it easier for me to afford.”
Boomers made up about 23 percent of Florida’s 15.9 million population in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2010, they will account for 27 percent of the 19.6 million people expected to be living here.
“The first of the Baby Boomers are just barely over 60 now, so over the next 10 or 15 years you’ll see a real increase in that group,” said Stan Smith, director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “Lower [housing] prices could have some impact because historically Florida has been a relatively low-cost place to live but that has been going up in recent years.”
Lured by low taxes and the advent of Social Security payments, throngs of seniors flocked to Florida in the post-World War II economic boom. Their numbers ebbed in the last decade, but Baby Boomers over the next 20 years are expected to reinvigorate the state’s status as a retirement mecca.
Such an influx worries some demographers and social services advocates.
“Florida is going to face a very different racial and cultural gap as the older Boomers age and the younger immigrants come with competing demands on public services,” said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, a Washington public policy think tank.
Edith Lederberg, executive director of the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Broward County, said there are already waiting lists for seniors needing most types of subsidized in-house services, such as personal care, home-delivered meals and nursing care. “It will get worse before it gets better,” she said. “A lot of Baby Boomers will expect social services to be there for them, and that won’t be the case because funding hasn’t kept pace with the need or demand.”
Robert McFall, chief executive officer of Area Agency on Aging of Palm Beach/Treasure Coast Inc., agreed.
“Florida’s destiny and its demographics are on a definite collision course unless we have the fortitude to invest in those essential services that will sustain a growing older population,” McFall said.
Real estate agents say they are already fielding more calls this summer from Boomers, especially those who live up North. Sparking their interest is the continued drop in home and condo prices, and the large number of foreclosures on the market.
Ron Schulman, managing broker at Majestic Palms Realty in Boca Raton, explained why. He had a condo listed for $70,000 at King’s Point in Delray Beach that sold – after more than a year — for $20,000.
“These Baby Boomers are thinking more about coming here, and they’re realizing now is the time,” he said.
The bargain prices enticed Jim and Debra Ciervo.
“We came for the weather,” said Debra Ciervo, 45, who recently moved from New Jerseyto Tamarac. “The prices are so much lower right now. We got our house for $100,000 less than what is was going for a year ago.”
South Florida’s high cost of living was partly to blame for an unprecedented population drop from 2006 to 2007. According to newly released U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 26 of Broward’s 31 cities lost a total of 15,000 residents, and three of them — Hollywood, Coral Springs and Pembroke Pines — made the Top 10 list of the nation’s fastest-shrinking large cities.
In Palm Beach, 27 of the county’s 38 communities lost a total of 2,238 people.
“I think people got run out of town by the high prices and now that prices and rents are coming down, we’ll see more people,” said Brad Hunter, South Florida director of the research firm Metrostudy in West Palm Beach.
Jim Godino, 59, a luxury-car salesman from Boston, is one of them. He is looking to buy a house in St. Lucie or Palm Beach County.
“I’m just waiting for the house that’s a good bang for the buck that I can make an offer on,” he said. “With the economy the way it is, I will probably have to work, so I’d prefer to be in a place where I can play golf and enjoy the warm weather.”
Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
BY ROBIN BENEDICK and JENNIFER GOLLAN
August 4, 2008
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