Millennials aren’t the only ones flocking to Charlotte in droves — their Baby Boomer parents are following.
In 2016, 26,390 millennials moved to Charlotte. With powerhouse employers including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Lowe’s and Red Ventures, many 23-38-year-olds move to the area for career opportunities. Once they get here, they stay: The city’s low cost of living compared with other big cities and quality of life are key drivers in decisions to make the Queen City their permanent homes.
As millennials start families, market researchers have begun to study the interconnectivity between the migration patterns of millennials and their Baby Boomer parents. Retirees are relocating, sometimes across the country, to live closer to their children and grandchildren.
Like their children, Baby Boomers are looking for affordability, among other factors — such as house size and accessibility to good school districts, according to research by Meyers Research.
Meyers Research, a Kennedy Wilson Company, is a provider of rich data for residential real estate development and new home construction. Its research shows that 25 percent of Baby Boomers are interested in retiring near their children, even if that means relocating to another state and essentially building a whole new life.
“The secret sauce for this home buyer connects back to key drivers for the active adult market: One, the ability to move down in size but not quality, and two, pay for the new home with proceeds from the sale of a previous home with some cash left over,” Tim Sullivan, Senior Managing Principal at Meyers, said in a statement.
“What differentiates the Boomer buyer from their parents’ retirement process is that the Boomer is moving to, not away, from the kids,” Sullivan said.
There’s even a term for this: Baby Chasers.
Charlotte: No. 1 for Baby Chasers
According to Meyers, Charlotte is the No. 1 market for Baby Chasers, followed by Austin, Raleigh, Nashville and Dallas.
Now that they’ve moved here: Where do all these Baby Boomers live?
Lancaster, South Carolina, has the second-largest share of active adult community projects, according to Meyers. “The county offers affordability, recreation options, a concentration of like-minded individuals and hits the desired sweet spot of being within a 15- to 20-minute drive to their grandkids,” said Shaun McCutcheon, a Meyers senior manager.
Just south of Charlotte’s city limits in South Carolina, Sun City Carolina Lakes sits on the banks of the Catawba River. This active adult community includes a public 18-hole golf course, 53,000 square feet of indoor amenity space and the area’s only 55+ softball complex for its nearly 5,000 residents. Residents can spend time with their families at the grandchildren’s playground or spend a day kayaking in one of 10 lakes that surround the property.
Across the state line on the north side of town, Trilogy Lake Norman is providing new residents with resort-style living. This 55+ community, complete with a private member club described as a “cruise ship on land,” is not what you’d expect of a typical retirement community. Voted among 2019: Where to Retire Magazine’s Top 50 Master-Planned Communities in the US, residents enjoy curated social activities such as cooking classes and outdoor amenities on Lake Norman.
A fresh start
Dolores Ferro moved to Charlotte to be closer to her two youngest grandchildren. The Chicago native and grandmother of seven was originally considering moving to a Trilogy property in either Arizona and Florida. When she found out that her son in law accepted a job in Charlotte, she was delighted by the idea to move to the area. Ferro was actively involved in her older, now-adult grandkids lives, and she wanted to experience the same with her two youngest grandchildren, ages 7 and 9.
The three-year resident has become a social butterfly in the community. “You come here and get younger. You find new best friends,” she said. She finds herself to be happy at different levels: security, home selection, social interactions and convenience. Ferro is not particularly a fan of the term Baby Chaser — she moved to Charlotte not just to be close to her family, but to also restart her own life.
Millennials, take note: If your parents move to one of these active communities, you might have to get on their calendars if you actually want to see them.
A retired biology teacher, Ferro has filled in as a substitute teacher at her grandson’s school. She’s also a master gardener and attends fitness classes and culinary lessons. From the outdoor resort pool to the culinary studio, residents have full social calendars they can enjoy with their neighbors — or invite their families.
Some Boomers are coming here for family, then staying for the party. When asked if Ferro would relocate again if her daughter and family left Charlotte, she said that she would not. “A community like this gives you roots. This is home.”