Seventy-eight (78) million Baby Boomers, the largest “age wave” in U.S. history, began reaching retirement age at a rate of 10,000 per day in 2008, a phenomenon that will continue through 2026. Moreover, this age group has retained a considerable portion of its wealth, much more than any other age segment, despite the attrition wrought by the Great Depression. The Boomers move into senior status will remake America in profound ways and will also force trailing generations to adjust their lives accordingly. Servicing the needs of Boomers and their concerned progeny opens up a rich and rewarding legal practice opportunity.
American retirees for several generations have followed the sun, seeking balmier climes in which to spend their “golden years.” This, in spite of the Great Recession and the uncommon vigor of the Boomer generation, is still true for many seniors. The lure of warm weather, sandy beaches, year-round golf, and even freedom from the “distractions” of children and grandchildren is still attractive to many millions of Boomers.
Attorneys who follow Boomers to the South and Southwest are also following both their disproportionate wealth, which dwarfs that amassed by any prior generation in world history, and the legal complications that come with affluence. The “Greatest Generation” has been succeeded by the “Richest Generation.” Relocation is accompanied by a host of legal matters: real estate, estate planning, pension benefits, issues arising due to part-time employment, disability planning, long-term care insurance, health-care decision-making, Medicare, Medicaid, nursing home issues, Social Security, veterans’ benefits, guardianship, conservatorship, elder abuse and fraud, business succession, etc.
Sun Cities and Age-Restricted Clusters
If you are looking for a high concentration of well-heeled older clients, you have to consider places where large numbers of them settle. In addition to the obvious ones like Boca Raton and the rest of South Florida, the Florida Gulf Coast, Arizona, and other senior (literal) hot spots, the crown jewels among these communities are the ones built with the intent of attracting thousands of retirees to one place. “Artificial” communities like Arizona’s Sun City and Sun City West, or Florida’s Sun City Center and The Villages near Orlando, have sprouted up all over regions with warm climates.
University-Affiliated Retirement Communities
Boomer retirees are, to some extent, a different breed from their parents. While some dream of a life of total leisure, playing golf all day followed by cocktail hours and country club dinners, a significant percentage seek something else. Instead of just sun, a lot of them are looking for mental stimulation. A growing number of colleges and universities are appealing to this yearning by developing retirement communities affiliated with the academic institution.
These retirement communities are, in contrast to the senior clusters discussed above, part of larger communities filled with people of all ages. No age segregation here.
University-affiliated retirement communities are generally more expensive than age-segregated senior clusters in the sub-tropics. What they have in common is that the seniors who move to these campus retirement communities bring with them all of the same legal issues that affect seniors everywhere.
There are more than 55 such retirement communities, with more than that number in development around the country. In addition, there are at least 50 more being planned.
Retirement Communities Near Universities
This category of retirement community is a variation on the university-affiliated ones. The difference is that these communities are not owned or sponsored by an academic institution. However, they have crafted some sort of “academic stimulation” relationship with a nearby institution. There are currently more than 50 of these communities.
College Towns in General
Do not overlook college towns in general. Studies indicate that many senior citizens retire to the communities where they attended college, lured by the memory of their bright college years.
Many of these colleges and universities also permit senior alums and their significant others to audit classes either free of charge or for a reduced fee. There are more than 4,500 public colleges and universities in the United States.
Military Retirement Concentrations
Military retirees also tend to congregate in certain locations, making these communities attractive to attorneys seeking a strong client base. For the most part, military retirees cluster around large military communities like Washington, DC; Tidewater Virginia; and San Diego, California.
There are also quite a few small-town exceptions to this tendency. Small towns close to major military bases with good health facilities are places where a great many military retirees settle. Examples include:
Fort Huachuca, Arizona
Naval Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut
Patrick Air Force Base, Florida
Fort Benning, Georgia
Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho
Scott Air Force Base, Illinois
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
Fort Campbell, Kentucky
Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana
Fort Polk, Louisiana
Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland
United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana
Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota
Fort Drum, New York
Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina
Fort Hood, Texas
Fort Lee, Virginia
A word of warning, however: The U.S. is attempting to downsize its military establishment and has been engaged in a series of base closing initiatives since the end of the Cold War. In the event one of the aforementioned installations becomes slated for closing, look for the adjacent military retiree community to move elsewhere. However, the last (2005) recommendations for closure by the Base Realignment and Closing Commission failed to win congressional approval and were once again resoundingly defeated in the House Armed Services Committee in May 2012.