As Gen X-ers Inch Toward Retirement, They’re Considering Where to Live

When they were raising their four children, Billy and Erin Shipley had space for their family to grow: a two-story, five-bedroom house in Sugar Land, Texas, with a large yard and a pool. But as the children became adults and moved out, the second floor was deserted and maintaining the lawn and pool became a burden.

Like many members of Generation X facing an empty nest, the Shipleys decided to look for a home better suited to their needs where they could eventually live in retirement. They chose a three-bedroom, single-story house in Bridgeland, a planned community about 35 miles away. “I did not look at it as a temporary exercise,” Mrs. Shipley, 46, said. “We could live here forever.”

Mr. Shipley, 54, added that the single story was a draw. “It’s going to be great not having to walk up stairs later,” he said.

Gen X is typically defined as those born between 1965 and 1980. Its oldest members are several years away from retirement, but they are already starting to think about where they will live in their 70s, 80s and even 90s.

The desire to grow older in one’s own home — rather than having to move in with family or to a retirement home — is common among many generations. In 2021, 88 percent of older adults, defined as people at least 65 years old, lived in their own home, according to a report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

“Overall demand is for maintaining quality of life as you age,” said Joanna Frank, chief executive and president of the Center for Active Design, a nonprofit organization that developed the Fitwel standard used by architects, designers and developers to foster wellness at home and in the workplace.

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