Retiring to the Jersey Shore – Part 2

This is the second post in this series exploring the Baby Boomer generation’s retirement trend and its relation to real estate, from Boomer habits and goals, how and where they would like to retire, and the pros and cons of retiring to the Jersey Shore.

The Jersey Shore has always had a strong, year-round older population, but more than ever it’s making sense for retirees to consider moving full-time to their second home, or even consider buying homes down the shore for their retirement.

A few years ago, when the first Boomers were turning 65, real estate agents at the shore were worried that Boomers would be selling off their shore houses in preparation for retirement, however Boomers are proving that they are remaining loyal to the shore and want to continue to live there, at least part-time.

I’ve interviewed Baby Boomers entering their prime retiring years. Some already have owned houses at the shore for years, using their homes as vacation homes, while others have used their houses as investment properties, with renters all summer season. One interviewee, Jeff, has semi-retired to the Jersey Shore starting in July of this year, while others are seriously considering retiring to the Shore within the next 1-2 years. You will find their full interviews as a supplemental installments in this blog series.

Why Retire to the Jersey Shore?

When I interviewed Boomers, there was a clear lifestyle consideration in wanting to retire at the Jersey Shore, which is similar to the sentiment shown in the Boomer generation as a whole, and talked about in the first blog post of this series. All three expressed the desire to live at the shore for similar reasons, which I’ve summarized below:

  1. Lifestyle
    Lifestyle was the main consideration for all Boomers when thinking about where they want to retire. Most really like the quiet, peaceful aspect of the shore. Beth remarks,

    I would like nothing better than to spend most of the year at the Jersey Shore. I find that the slower pace of life down there, coupled with the off shore breeze and sound of the surf are incredibly relaxing. I can easily imagine enjoying the ‘shoulder seasons’ in the spring and fall before and after the influx of seasonal visitors.”

    In general, Boomers consider  the beach environment a major selling point in retirement, as Jim points out: “I love the smell of the ocean air. The lifestyle of being able to step outside and walk on the beach to me is a very positive thing.”  Boomers appreciate the slower pace of life at the shore.

  2. Location, Location, Location
    Having a home at the Jersey Shore is a major draw for kids and grandkids. Who wouldn’t want to spend a week with their parents enjoying the beach? Jim made a good point, “It’s an easy place for the family to get to. Everyone lives within a hundred miles of the Jersey shore.” In general, Boomers want to be close by to loved ones. According to a 2012 study, a third of Boomers want to live very close to their families – 62% plan on living in the same state as they currently reside. Boomers know that when they do need more care later in life, they’d rather have their family have the convenience of taking care of them near by.Chris is clear in his thoughts about it, “I want to be proximate to what’s important to me: my kids, and my friends and extended family, and we have a place at the shore that is central to all of that.”Another important factor for retirees these days is still having a close family association or place to go for family holidays. Beth points out what she likes most about the idea of being close to family: “the appeal and ease of accessibility of the place for visiting family and friends; the strong emotional associations and memories of past good times.” It’s clear Boomers are taking family into consideration when they think about retirement. Their retirement years are about relaxing, but also about continuing close ties with loved ones.
  3. The Outdoors
    Jim and Jeff both spoke specifically about the appeal of being close to the water in retirement. Jim’s house in Ocean City gives him great access to that, and the ability to have a more active, outdoors lifestyle than he currently has. He wants to be able to walk to town, and enjoy the benefits of the shore’s natural beauty. Beth and Jeff both echoed Jim’s sentiments. Beth is excited about the walkability of the shore points, and the idea of riding her bike, while Jeff talked about how much he loves fishing and frequently going out on his boat – something he can’t do when he’s not near the shore.
  4. Affordability
    Financial stability is a major concern for Boomers. Cape May County, home to popular destinations like Sea Isle, Ocean City, Avalon and Cape May, has the second lowest property tax rates in New Jersey. Compared to other Jersey counties and Philadelphia suburbs, the shore way of life is affordable.

“Cons” of Retiring to the Jersey Shore

Of course, there are always some cons when deciding where you want to spend most of your golden years.

  1. Weather
    Some drawbacks of making the shore your full-time residence includes unforeseen weather – Hurricane Sandy certainly comes to mind. Aside from catastrophic weather events, the cold, lonely winter is not too appealing for retirees at the Jersey Shore. Beth and Jim both see winter down the shore as a bit of a drag, and Chris worries about the isolation the shore in the winter can bring. Jeff doesn’t necessarily see winter down the shore as a bad thing, but he is breaking up the cold winter with some sun: “We knew the first year in the winter may have some interesting expectations…Florida is only a 2 hour plane ride away, we hope to spend some time there, when the skiing starts to end, just before the striper seasons kicks in for the Springtime.”
  2. Health Care
    Another con that Beth mentioned was the access to premiere health care in the area. She feels that she has good health providers in the Philadelphia area, and feels a little uneasy about being further away from her providers. In contrast, Jim viewed health care as a positive in his case. He wasn’t so much concerned, as Shore Medical Center, a large hospital, is close by in Somer’s Point.
  3. Taxes
    The Jersey Shore may not be as tax friendly as other popular retiree destinations. Taxes are a subject that will be discussed in the next blog post.

It’s a Shore Thing

If there is one thing for sure, it’s that Boomers are taking their retirement seriously. Jeff had his retirement plan started over 20 years ago, and though he’s made slight modifications to his original plan, he’s finally carrying it out. Chris says he thinks about retirement almost daily.

Retirement for Boomers may not be static. Boomers are active, and always evaluating their options. They’ve made it clear that they are considering every facet of retired life in their decision, with a specific emphasis on lifestyle, staying active, and family. And the Jersey Shore couldn’t be a better fit for those goals.

Part Three of this blog post discusses more Boomer Retirement issues including housing, taxes, and mortgage trends. Also, be on the lookout for Boomer interviews, being posted periodically on this blog.



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