NEW YORK (Money Magazine) - These days, many 40-year-olds are already thinking about how and where they want to live when they retire.
According to a recent online poll of Money magazine subscribers, the No. 1 retirement housing choice of the baby- boom generation is staying home, which experts call "aging in place." The second most popular option: relocating, to be near adult children. A third option, -- shuttling between two homes -- can offer the best of both worlds.
Whatever decision you make about your retirement lifestyle, most likely you'll have lots of company. Every eight seconds, a boomer turns 50; the oldest members of the cohort are 58. So if you're thinking about retiring in a new home -- whether it's your only base or one of two -- now's the time to find it.
"There's a concern that the prices of properties most desired by boomers may get of reach," says David Hehman, CEO of EscapeHomes.com, a San Francisco realty firm specializing in second homes.
"The negative legacy of a large generation is that it creates its own inflation," explains economist Richard F. Hokenson. "Unless you were born at the very beginning of the baby boom, you are always colliding with people who want to do the same thing as you -- whether it's buying a house or sending kids to college."
Our advice: Buy now, retire later.
Jump-starting the good life
A distinguishing aspect of boomers -- those of us born between 1946 and 1964 -- is that we haven't held back from experiencing the good life while raising our families and building our careers. And our ideas about how to spend retirement may not be that different from the life we're already living.
I'm planning on staying put, like most people in their late forties. My vision of a great retirement is puttering in my garden, raising tomatoes and grandchildren, writing a novel, traveling the world. You may want to perfect your tennis serve, volunteer at a museum or teach kids to read. But chances are, whatever we see ourselves doing in the future is more a continuation of what we're doing now than a radical break.
Those baby boomers who don't intend to stay put are moving early, reports William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, based on his studies of the U.S. Census. One factor driving this advance planning is that the majority of boomers think they'll keep working, at least part time. According to the 2002 Americans and Their Money survey, just 28 percent of affluent Americans say they want to "retire completely" when they retire.
Most boomers will retire without the benefit of a guaranteed pension, and the stock market has not been as kind to their assets as they had hoped. So even after age 65, they'll need to stay close to their professional networks. If they're going to relocate, then, they have to do so in time to build a new set of contacts. What's more, Frey observes, "one spouse may want to retire and the other may want to keep a business."