Couples without children under the age of 18 are becoming the fastest-growing family type and represent a very large and important segment of the home-buying market. For this reason, many builders are meeting the needs of baby boomers now reaching their 50s and those who have already moved into the "empty nest" stage of life after their children leave home.
Companies such as Toll Brothers, the nation's leading building of luxury homes, have been studying the needs and trends of empty nesters and have identified several issues to consider when deciding how and where to spend your 'empty nest' years.
According to Toll Brothers Assistant Vice President Joe Pease at Mizner Country Club in South Florida, the first consideration is the size of your family. "Just because you no longer have to feed, clothe and keep up after a house full of children everyday doesn't necessarily mean a small home is the best option. Family traditions are an integral part of our society, often becoming even more meaningful as we get older," Pease noted. "A home with a large dining room to accommodate holiday dinners, or a family room with enough space for the entire family to gather, will be a necessity for many empty nesters."
If you always enjoyed entertaining, Pease noted that you're apt to have more time on your hands to devote to this interest, now that the chauffer responsibilities and extra-curricular activities are behind you. Having a large kitchen, living room or great room, and even a wet bar will enhance your ability to plan the perfect gathering.
You may need fewer bedrooms than you currently have, if family members live close by. But if you now have - or expect to have - grandchildren and want the ability to have them sleep over, downsizing could pose a problem. The same is true if your family lives out of town and you want them to stay with you when they visit.
Now that you're freer to enjoy social and recreational activities, why not have them right in your neighborhood, even within walking distance? Pease pointed out that country club communities can fit the bill and provide hours of leisure opportunities -- from fine and casual dining to golf, tennis, swimming, fitness classes and spa services.
Another benefit of being an empty nester is the ability to pick up and go on the spur of the moment. Couples who plan to travel often will have enhanced peace of mind if they live in a gated community with good security and have security features built into their homes.
"These are just some of the things to consider when deciding whether to stay in your current home, downsize, or relocate to a new home that better suits your new lifestyle. By investigating all of the options, your empty nest years could be the best ones yet," he concluded.