DULUTH - A community for empty-nesters has more than three times the economic impact on a county as a factory does, the Georgia division president of Pulte and Del Webb homes said Wednesday.
Casey Hill, speaking to members of the Council for Quality Growth, said counties are thrilled when more jobs move within their borders. But they should also welcome active adult living, which has an economic impact 3.7 times that of a factory, he said.
Retirees who put less pressure on government services and take fewer trips will add $6 million to Hall County's general fund with a new development, The Village at Deaton Creek. They will bring $23 million to the school system over 20 years without putting any additional pressure on the schools, Hill said, and give an economic boost to local businesses by shopping and eating in off-peak hours.
"We understate the positive economic stimulus," Hill said. "There are huge benefits for active adult living."
The Hall County development is 1,240 homes and Hill said county commissioners first balked at smaller lot sizes on the houses. But residents who are moving to communities designed for people 55 years old or older are more interested in the activities that are available to them than houses themselves, Hill said. As a result, the average sales price in the Hall County community is just under $300,000, he said.
Hill attributed a growing interest in communities designed for older Americans to the increasing population. More than 78 million people are 55 or older nationwide, he said, and many of them are willing to move within 50 to 100 miles of their current homes for an active living community.
"It's a huge population and we need to consider their wants and needs," he said. "The numbers are growing every day."
Many retirees are time rich, Hill said, and looking for opportunities to volunteer or take classes. They want wellness opportunities in their communities and want to join clubs and organizations.
"It's no longer shuffleboard, it's boccie ball, they're jumping out of planes," Hill said. "These buyers are anything but retired. They're not retired from life, they want to stay active, they will stay active."
Hill said he sees the opportunity for such communities increasing for the next seven to 10 years. Older Americans, he said, own 70 percent of all assets in the country and have half of the country's disposable income.
In metro Atlanta, 30 percent of all home buyers are more than 55 years old, Hill said.
"They're affluent and have money to spend," he said.