Sunday, October 4, 2009

Baby boomers plan to retire in the country

From the Oregonian:

It was balmy Honolulu, he was CEO of a life insurance company, and they lived in a spectacular penthouse with beach views – but it was still 800,000 people and gridlock traffic. When it came time to retire, Dick and Laurie "Lou" Fisk jumped to an acre of land between Medford and Jacksonville.

Now they know their neighbors by name, have room for dogs and say the area's medical facilities are outstanding. From the Medford area, they can visit their children in Boise and Portland, and can reach San Francisco in a seven-hour drive. They can golf and fish all they want.

At 74 and 62, they are the advance guard of an army of retiring baby boomers who researchers say will leave suburbs and flood rural America over the next 10 years. If past migration patterns hold, the population of 55- to 75-year-olds in rural areas will increase to more than 14.2 million by 2020, nearly double what it was in 2000.

Oregon's small towns, ranging from Joseph in the northeast and Klamath Falls in the south to Tillamook on the coast, will be changed and challenged by newcomers who arrive with their time, money and expertise intact.
They represent a migration that turns conventional wisdom on its head. Urban planners have until now proceeded on the assumption that retiring baby boomers will downsize to a high-rise and spend their days lapping lattes and taking the streetcar to the art museum.

A lot of them will. But new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says baby boomers will head to the country in big numbers, in the Northwest changing the face of rural Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

And it's not just because the 83 million boomer generation is the largest in U.S. history and all of their movements are out-sized. Demographers are talking about a genuine "deconcentration" of population near metro centers. Urban areas will see a net loss of people age 55 to 75, while in non-metro areas that age group will increase by 1.6 million nationally during the next 10 years.