Leaving the Nest When life is like a cruise ship.

By Daniel Schere



With the majority of baby boomers having now become empty-nesters, people between the ages of 55 and 70 are thinking about their next move. For them, that usually means moving into a retirement community. It also means having access to amenities like a fitness room and a pool, adult education classes and some form of nursing care for the later years.

“They’re looking at this as, ‘I want to get in there carefree,’” says Elizabeth O’Connor, the director of marketing and sales for Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson.

Blakehurst is a community of 330 residents who move in when they are as young as 60, mainly for the purposes of downsizing and taking advantage of the on-site senior living care that is provided.

“They say, ‘I can live a wonderful lifestyle and included in the price is nursing care and assisted living care,’” O’Connor says.

She also notes that Blakehurst includes amenities such as fitness programs, lectures, arts performances and a heated pool.

“It feels like a city with lots of courses,” she says. “People will say to me, ‘I’m living on a cruise ship.’”

O’Connor says about 70 percent of the community’s clientele is local, but many are moving from other states in order to be closer to their children, who are now working in Baltimore.

The situation is similar in the 500-resident community Homewood of Frederick, a continuing care retirement community that provides independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care.

“We’re getting a lot more younger retirees who are starting to look sooner and they’re really starting to investigate downsizing options,” says Associate Marketing Director Suzanne Roos.

Roos said the majority of residents are from Frederick and Carroll counties, but in the past couple of years there has been a large increase in retirees coming from southern states in order to be near their children and grandchildren in Baltimore or Washington, D.C.

She said many of Homewood’s residents are downsizing and often look at their patio homes since they are set up for single-family living.

“I think it makes their transition easier because they’re not giving up a home completely,” Roos says. “They don’t want to do maintenance, snow removal. They want to be able to travel, so a community like Homewood is very attractive to them because all of those maintenance activities are taken care of.”

Roos adds that the residents’ children  are “getting a gift” as well because it alleviates concerns over their parents’ health.

“They want to make a decision while they’re still healthy on where they live,” she says. “Their children are not going to have to think about what happens to Mom or Dad.”

The trend of parents retiring in places close to their children is growing, says Jay Dixon, a principal with the advertising agency Borcz Dixon. Dixon says many in Florida and the Carolinas are discovering that they want a change from the warm weather and the distance, and as a result are moving to states like Maryland and Delaware, the latter a tax-friendly state.

In Maryland, Dixon points to the Two Rivers community in Odenton as an example of the type of living situation baby boomers are looking for.

“It’s centered conveniently between Baltimore, D.C. and Annapolis so it has everything those cities provide and they’re close to their kids and grandkids,” he says.

Dixon says in addition to being close to family, these retirees are also choosing communities with an active social life.

“Living in an active adult community is like going back to college without the classes,” he says. “They have a good time and the communities that they live in cater to enjoying neighbors and friends.”

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