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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The boomers are coming -- not

Here's an interesting study. It shows that by and large, the boomers aren't retiring to downtown condo towers. They're staying in the suburbs, or moving to sprawl in the southern half of the country:

An analysis of those who were 55 to 65 in 2000 and 65 to 75 in 2010 reveals an even stronger anti-urban bias, with an over 12% drop in city dwellers. Since these folks are far less likely to have kids at home and more properly retired, this cohort’s behavior suggests that aging boomers are if anything less likely to move to the cities in the next decade.

Indeed, if boomers do move, notes Sandi Rosenbloom, a noted expert on retirement trends and professor of Planning and Civil Engineering at the University of Arizona, they tend to move to less dense and more affordable regions. The top cities for aging boomers largely parallel those that appealed to the “young and restless” in our earlier survey. The top ten on our list are all affordable, generally low-density Sun Belt metros.

It appears that the density dreams of the Portlandia planning cabal are not going to be fulfilled by an influx of blue-hairs to our rainy, gray city any time soon. You have to wonder who the heck is going to ride that eastside streetcar.

Comments (35)

Don't forget the Manhattanites seeking to escape the island. Get the trolly into LO and the stage is set.

what I wouldn't give to see the true vacancy rates at Portland's condos 2000-2011

Anybody remember when Seattle had the sign "Wiil the last one out please turn off the lights?" on the city limits? With the exodus of sane people getting out because they simply can't afford to live there any more, it'll just be a matter of time before the hipsters decide they suddenly like some new "unspoiled" area that they can ruin. At that point, who would be left besides the Mayor's Twitter strikeforce?

I wonder how much the economic downturn is driving this?

How many boomers who had planned to sell the house and downsize are holding onto the house because their grown kids are staying home or moving back home, or even just they are worried that they might.

I'm stating the obvious, but what boomer in their right mind would want to hang out in a cramped Pearl district condo in dreary Portland anyway?

I've analyzed the data and it is true. People over 65 tend to move out of Portland, not into it. You do get a lot of 55-65 year olds, but not older.

One possible reason is taxes. If you retire here and withdraw money out of your IRA, you pay full state income taxes. If you die, your inheritance gets taxed even more. Oregon ranks 4th worst nationally as a place to retire for that reason.

However, if you are poor and elderly, Oregon is a good place to retire because you would pay little income tax and there is no sales tax. Plus there are special tax benefits for seniors.

Yet the average age of Portland metro area residents continues to rise (it's currently about 35.2 years old). I don't think that's being skewed by suburbs.

Also, the number of children under in 18 in Portland has dropped steeply in the past 25 years. In some city neighborhoods, it's half what it was in the 80s.

So, what's Portland made up of? I'd say increasingly older, poorer people. The young (under 35) crowd tend to cycle through cities before settling a bit, and Portland is a popular "cycle through" city. That "creative class" that Florida tries not to talk too much about today hasn't tended to settle here much.

Watch the average age. Watch the number of children. Watch the home ownership rate.

As property taxes continue to rise, rise, rise, the city will become an enclave for those that can afford to buy into it, period. Some property tax bills run hundreds of dollars a month, even for mid-priced homes. That's a little-discussed topic--the impact of property taxes on homeowners. It's getting harder and harder, and those booming foreclosures are aided in part by unaffordable property taxes.

We're not the most expensive in that area, you say? So what? Does "not most expensive" equal "affordable"? Not even close.

"So, what's Portland made up of? I'd say increasingly older, poorer people. The young (under 35) crowd tend to cycle through cities before settling a bit, and Portland is a popular "cycle through" city. That "creative class" that Florida tries not to talk too much about today hasn't tended to settle here much."

So who are all those folks packing all the new expensive restaurants on a nightly basis in my North Portland neighborhood? Older, poorer people? Or is it all a mirage.

I think there is some truth to this article. In just this year, we've had at least three couples we know who are on the verge of retirement who are considering moving to the Reno/Sparks area.
Not only is there a lot of newer housing available at prices way below what you pay in Portland; but the taxes here are a fraction of what we paid in Oregon.

I am actually investigating moving to parts South (and I don't mean California)once my current job ends (meaning retirement or semi-retirement). I want a far better climate. The problem with the South is politics (at least if you are gay) but there are enclaves and when I have time I need to do some traveling and figure out what would suit me.

If retiring aboard were not such a hassle, I'd seriously consider Costa Rica.

I showed a client two houses recently. They really liked them both. One was just inside Multnomah County in SW Portland. The taxes on it were $6,900. The other home was in a nice neighborhood in Tigard. The taxes on it were $3,400. They were both priced around $340,000. Guess which one they picked? Guess which one was a short sale?

You are correct on both questions.

So who are all those folks packing all the new expensive restaurants on a nightly basis in my North Portland neighborhood? Older, poorer people? Or is it all a mirage.

Unless three-quarters of a million people "pack" those restaurants in your neighborhood, I'd say you're reporting an anecdote, not a description of the entire metro area.

I'm also surprised that more people don't realize how ephemeral and faddish the restaurant business is, and what a poor indicator of economic or demographic info it is. Restaurants come and go with extreme regularity--maybe 1 restaurant in 100 lasts a decade without either closing or being "reinvented".

For food carts, the cycle is much more severe, short, and abrupt.

For my parents and grandparents having their house paid for by the time they retired was a significant piece of their retirement portfolio. There's a lot to be said for not having a mortgage payment taking a bite out of your pension every month. Not to mention the amount of equity that they've acquired in 30+ years of owning their homes.

Also, a lot of seniors equate having a drivers license with independence and mobility. I would imagine that getting seniors to give up their cars in exchange for public transportation and walking is a tough sell, especially those with medical conditions that impact their mobility.

Not to mention, when seniors read stories like this one about an 84 year old woman getting beaten at a max station, why would they be eager to give up their house and car for that?

It seems to me that the CoP's imagineering appeals to a population that is fairly transitory. It appeals to the 20 and 30 something crowd that's still just playing at being grown ups and has no intention of putting down roots here. The city seems to do a pretty poor job of planning in a way that attracts, and keeps, families, businesses or apparently retirees.

Does that mean it's being run like a resort?

I'm a boomer and someday I'm moving to Astoria. I'll miss NoPo....

One technicality about the article's study group (and the headline chosen by Jack) is that the first boomer was born on Jan. 1, 1946. The age group studied in this article therefore wasn't the boomers, it was the last half of the silent generation (1926-1945).

Here is the actual population change by age since 2000 (for the city):

Under 5 years up 6,005
5 to 24: down 10,380
25 to 34: up 22,716
35 to 54: down 875
55 to 64: Up 24,930
65 & older: down 4,815

Source: 2000 US Census and the 2009 ACS (US Census).

Little kids way up, school-college age down, lots more early and late career people but fewer seniors.

I currently live 1.5 blocks from the Washington County line, a fact which I've regretted for years. I expect to retire - or at least, semi-retire - in the next couple of years, and topping my priority list is moving the hell away from Portland.

Little kids way up, school-college age down, lots more early and late career people but fewer seniors.

Uh, no.

visit factfinder2 dot census dot gov and compare.

And let's clear up a misconceptions about the ACS: it provides ESTIMATES, not counts. The Census provides "counts".

And for the curious, Portlandonline has demographic spreadsheets for neighborhoods, dating back to 1980. Search on "Neighborhood Demographics", check out your own neighborhood, and see what's changed.

Let's look at Irvington:
1990 pop. under 18: 19%
1990 pop. 65+: 15%
1980 pop. under 18: 26% (includes through age 18)
1980 pop. 65+: 16%

All numbers from the City's own data. Hmm. Looks like the number of children in Irvington *steeply fell*, and the number of 65+ *rose*.

And if you're wondering "hey, but what about after 1990", visit the city's website--the trends shown here continue.

Well, I am going to bet it varies quite a bit by neighborhood. So city wide is the truest picture.

Hayhurst 1990 (since Maplewood had no 1990 numbers )

Less Than 5 Years 5%
65 Years And Over 18%

Hayhurst 2000

Less Than 5 Years 6%
65 Years And Over 17%

Pretty static, actually.

Pretty static, actually.

1% in my example (Irvington) would mean almost 100 people--far from "static".

For those with lots of time, check out other neighborhoods, especially inner SE ones. Notice the number of children under 18.

This boomer has already purchased a condo in a warm, sunny, urban place with no state income tax, at about 20% of what comparable housing in this city costs right now. Property taxes are about 1/3 of property taxes here. And guess what, they have great restaurants, world class entertainment and cultural activities, and an international airport from which you can actually get someplace in less than three flights. And you can walk around the neighborhood too! Yes, the local politics are crappy. So what. Ready to flee.

Where is this Maria?

hey- we're looking to buy in a smaller town also-
who wants to live in a wanna be Portland town complete with spendaholics in our city Council. Jack Hoffman would love to let his real estate buddies develop Foothills. Fat chance now. What government funding is there for the streetcar?

"This boomer has already purchased a condo in a warm, sunny, urban place with no state income tax, at about 20% of what comparable housing in this city costs right now."

Really, 20% of what it costs here? Do you mean maybe 20% less than it costs her? I know property in the sand states,especially foreclosures, is really cheap right now (I am seriously looking at Arizona. I am seeing property there at 50% of comparable here.) But 20% of a comparable house & neighborhood in Portland? If true fess up and tell us where? You've already bought so there is no reason not to.

...The city seems to do a pretty poor job of planning in a way that attracts, and keeps, families, businesses or apparently retirees.

The city seems to do a pretty poor job period. People want to be able to plan for themselves without constant planning and changes being pushed on them, social engineering in the extreme doesn't feel good to me.

People want to be able to plan and have some measure of security in knowing that reasonable people are making wise decisions about the city. Higher taxes to pay for pet projects and week after week crazymaking has become a setting for instability that does not bode well for businesses or people to stay here.

Hypocrisy reigns as well, and I wonder what will happen when newcomers find out that much talk about sustainability is only on the surface, and that much talk about citizens input and democracy is just that here, only talk.

I would imagine that for those who can avoid or ignore politics, close their eyes to the goings on and partake of the “good” only in the city, all is fine. But for those who are watchdogs and know what is going on, for those who have been given the “treatment” in city council when the council turns their back on the businesses and citizens, the scene really is quite sick. This as much as anything has made the city intolerable for many.

The City intends to be attractive to boomers/aging adults. The City intends to be attractive to the "creative class."

Seems like those are fairly opposite goals.

Michelle - I don't believe the city has any intention of being attractive to a boomer like me. And intent is nothing without action. But hell the city doesn't even say anything that is attractive to me.

The simplest truth about current Portland decision makers is true of a lot of other cities: Cities are desperate to grow, and in that desperation will latch on to any theory or promise they can find that will serve that end.

Why desperate to grow? Because current beliefs about city economics say that if you're not growing, you're stagnating--that there is no stasis, no steady state. It's grow or die.

This is why you get ideas like Florida's "creative class" getting so much play, why you get Sam Adams saying Portland should be an "international city" (and supporting the Tram as one part of that), a bizarre focus on plastic bags and bicycles, and the increasingly schizophrenic focus on *tourism* as a means of sustaining an urban area.

In other words--governments like Portland's are mostly clueless about what to do, and are often staffed with people who don't have the talent and guts to swim against the tide.

And citizens are just as guilty of the fad following--more so, you might say--because they swallow the promises of something like a "creative class", despite a stunning lack of evidence.

So if all of us--in and out of government--aren't able to be farsighted or courageous enough to bring people together on common values (hint--opinions about plastic bag use isn't a common value), then what are we going to get?

Portlandia. Let's keep aiming low, Portland. Let's keep aiming for self-parody, ironic mustaches, acceptance of governmental dishonesty, and the low-hanging, meaningless fruit like plastic bags.

Maria is moving to Nevada or Florida. (the only other warm state without income tax is Texas but their property taxes are high). Nevada's property tax rates are half of Florida's so I guess Las Vegas.

I'd say the condo's price is is 20% of a comparable one here too, not 20% lower.

Portlandia. Let's keep aiming low, Portland.

How low can we go?

John: Good guesses. Right on. Think beach.

Anontoo: 20% of the comparables here, not 20% lower.

Forgot to add bonus question: Which state has a substantial property tax homestead exemption for residents?

Gulf or Atlantic Coast, Maria?


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