In the conversation about renewed population growth in urban areas, the focus is often on young adults. The interpretation is that they’re deferring home purchases in the suburbs to spend their twenties in urban settings. But there is another demographic that is also moving toward downtown, although for different reasons.
The old stereotype about the senior citizens moving to Florida in their retirement was never universally true and is even less so now. As reported by Mark Miller of Reuters, fewer seniors are moving across a state line. Many are choosing to remain in the metropolitan regions in which they lived their lives. Their goal is to continue the social and professional relationships they’ve built.
And for many of those who stay in the same area, access to transit can be a key element of their lives. Kaid Benfield of the Natural Resources Defense Council writes about how walkable, transit-oriented development is a good choice for many seniors, largely because it allows them to make more outings, securing needed services and remaining connected to life.
Benfield also includes a video by the American Association of Retired People that talks about the transit-oriented focus in northern Virginia, including testimonials by senior transit users.
Marlys Harris of the Minneapolis Post measures whether urban or suburban life is better for seniors. She comes down in favor of urban. Not necessarily downtown Minneapolis, but any urban setting in which transit is readily available. In her words, “The availability of that bus or train may be the single most important factor in allowing them to live the good life.” A walkable, human-scaled town center with a bus stop or a rail station qualifies just fine.
There are many ways to live healthy, active senior lives. Accessibility to transit provides an opportunity to continue those lives without taking a car out of the garage or after driving is no longer an option. And easy access to transit can most frequently be found in urban settings.
Providing healthy lifestyles for seniors is yet one more reason to support urban development. I know that I hope the area around the Petaluma SMART station will be developed by the time my wife and I need to make our next move.
As always, your questions or comments will be appreciated. Please comment below or email me. And thanks for reading. - Dave Alden (firstname.lastname@example.org)