Baby Boomers Boosting Resort And College Town Real Estate Markets

While the housing crisis continues to pound many regions in the United States, a small subset of college and resort town communities have continued to grow, largely because of their popularity among retiring and second home-owning baby boomers looking to spend more time in their favorite vacation destinations. Many of these towns, such as Flagstaff, Arizona, have seen growth rates double and triple that of the average rural small town, according to NPR. The demand for housing in small scenic towns- such as beach resorts, western ski towns and New England villages will only continue to grow as more baby boomers retire, creating the “demographic perfect storm” for growth in these areas, demographer Kenneth Johnson said.

Reactions have been mixed in regard to the increasing popularity of these picturesque destinations. Proponents argue that newcomers bring jobs and wealth, shielding these rural communities from economic downturn. Critics contend that the influx of wealthy baby boomers raises housing prices through gentrification and generates a surge in the overall cost of living for all residents of these small communities. The median house price in Flagstaff, for instance, has more than doubled in the past eight years. Rising house prices have forced many middle-income families to reconsider living in Flagstaff, resulting in backlash that has been paraphrased in a bumper sticker slogan popular in the region: “Don’t Phoenix Flagstaff.”

As increasing numbers of baby boomers approach retirement, it will be important for these small towns to consider plans to keep growth at a comfortable yet steady clip. While continued growth and strong real estate markets can be extremely beneficial for these communities, unfettered growth can have disastrous consequences, potentially destroying the small town charm that made them unique and desirable in the first place.



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