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Coliving for Boomers: What They Really Want

by Margaret Manning

This article will explore the results of a survey that I sent to a group in my Coliving for Boomers community. It reveals how coliving for boomers is a growing trend and opportunity for coliving operators and developers. It highlights their interest and preference in coliving and gives operators and developers a concrete call to action to address this demographic.

Baby Boomers Are a Unique Demographic

Marketing experts like to categorize boomers as ‘seniors’ or ‘elders’ but even in a youth-obsessed world, boomers are defying aging stereotypes and living our life with passion and purpose! Today 60-year-old women are traveling the world, starting new businesses and living longer. They are looking for lifestyle alternatives.

My focus and area of expertise is women over 60. I founded a community called Sixty and Me in 2013 that now reaches over half a million women over 60. Our YouTube channel has over 1600 videos and 80,000 subscribers. My community of women are looking to make the most of this amazing time in their lives and realize the value of social engagement.

The Emergence of the Nomad Boomer

Many women are still working in their 60s and 70s and some are what could accurately be called nomad boomers. Like their millennial counterparts, they are traveling the world, working where there can find good internet and like-minded friends. Travel is a passion for many of the women in our community.

Some women are widows, many are divorced, and most are downsizing their lives, reinventing themselves and looking for new ways to survive and thrive!

Many boomer women (and men) are living in big houses with empty rooms and as part of the ‘downsizing’ mindset that comes with aging, want smaller, more flexible living spaces. They also want a social connection. There are also strong financial concerns as boomers worry about not having saved enough for retirement or outliving their money. Many realize that having an income is as important as retirement savings so looking for ways to find alternative sources of income.

In terms of age, boomers are in their 60’s and 70’s but in their hearts feel strong, independent and full of life. They live with passion and purpose and know that our 3 main priorities for them are staying healthy, having financial security and enjoying social connection.

"No, No Never! I Will Not Live in a Retirement Home!"

Baby boomers are still several years away from moving into traditional senior housing or retirement communities. From conversations I’ve had, it’s the last place on earth most women over 60 want to live. Yes, there may come a time when they need some kind of ‘assisted’ living, but that is in the distant future for most.

Why I Personally Care about Coliving

I have a very personal interest in coliving since I have decided that will be my style of living in my 70s. I lost my house in the crash of 2008 and have not owned property since then. I am 70 years old so do not have the option to take out a mortgage to play in the cohousing world. Like many boomers, I have no retirement savings so plan to work forever. I love to travel but want to have a base for my books, my art and a place to spend personal time with family. I am used to living in studios, so the coliving model works for me.

I wanted to connect with operators and developers to see what was possible for boomers. So, I decided to look at alternatives and report back to the community on the living trends and what was available. I looked at home sharing and cohousing. Both seemed good options but many women in Sixty and Me are over 60, with no savings or house to sell. We published articles and videos on coliving to get an understanding of what women in their 60s wanted. We explored many alternatives and coliving ideas.

The bottom line seemed to be that women over 60 want an affordable place to live that does not involve them having to give up their personal space or independence. On the other hand, they know the dangers of social isolation and saw the value of living with like-minded friends! Coliving is a perfect solution for them.

Coliving is Emerging as an Option for Boomers

In my research, I encountered a tsunami that is coliving for millennials. Shrewd developers and operators are investing in this coliving model with passion and verve. They are literally popping up everywhere. You only have to go online to Coliving to discover a comprehensive directly or read Coliving Diaries, curated by Gui Perdrix to understand the scale and speed of growth.

The group left behind, in my opinion, is Boomers. I personally believe that this demographic is perfectly positioned to embrace and empower the growth of this coliving model. However, they do want something a little different than the millennials resident in terms of offerings.

Coliving for Boomers Survey and Insights

In order to gain some insights into this subject, I started a Facebook Group called Coliving for Boomers. Within a few weeks, we gained 500 followers and a wonderful honest conversation about coliving began.

I started to talk with operators and developers and discovered that most of very interested in this 60+ person but wanted to understand a few specific things. I saw the opportunity so clearly but no solutions in sight.

So, after a few weeks, I offered an informal, anonymous survey asking Boomers (60+ and primarily women) what they thought of the coliving lifestyle, what they thought was the ideal size, acceptable style, gender preference, rental price range.

I also asked about specific lifestyle preferences and extra services they might be prepared to pay extra for each month. I will do a survey soon with a much larger audience, but this was a taster. Here are the initial findings from 100 people.

What the Survey Revealed

To me, the results are very straight forward and give a good baseline for further conversation and analysis.

I found the answers were a great summary of what I felt in my heart. It is important to restate that my communities of Sixty and Me is only women over 60, so this survey is reflective of their preferences.

My other website Learn to Simplify and Facebook Group Coliving for Boomers will reveal deeper commentary as they continue to grow.

I am looking forward to extending this research to the wider Sixty and Me community of 500,000 women.

Who Wants to Get Involved in Coliving for Boomers?

In this survey, we have identified a group of boomers who are clearly interested in coliving! In my opinion, they represent the tip of an iceberg. The challenge (and significant opportunity) is that today there are no coliving solutions for boomers.

The survey has demonstrated that there is an interest and the people who answered the questions have offered very specific and clear feedback on their ideal coliving living arrangement. They have told us how much they want to pay, what size they would prefer, the style of living They have shared their motivation and preferences.

The reality is that I have a very large community of boomer women and no coliving solution to promote to them.

Anyone who is involved in this coliving world knows that this model is the future of community living in our cities around the world. Boomers will enter this market if there are places for them to go. Is yours one of them?

Who wants to get involved? If you are an operator or developer and would like to discuss further, please contact me at margaretmanning@hotmail.com.

And if you are a woman in our Sixty and Me community who is interested in coliving, please join our Facebook group.

About The Author: Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me, a global community of 500,000 women over 60. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Born in London, raised in Canada and educated in the United States Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. She started her career in bookselling and spent 40 years in marketing and communication roles at Microsoft, Siemens and other technology companies.

Margaret started Sixty and Me to help other women her age to live happy, healthy and financially secure lives. Her desire is to help the women in the Sixty and Me community to find profitable work, stay healthy and develop a positive mindset about this amazing period of their lives. She believes that together, older women are on a journey to find joy, passion and a sense of purpose in the best years of thier lives. She feels it is time to push back on aging stereotypes and navigate aging with passion and verve!

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