Tuesday, August 21, 2018

There’s a disturbing new trend among rich baby boomers. No, not that they are getting even richer. Apparently, according to architects and home builders, wealthy boomers are not downsizing. In fact, they are making their master bedrooms even larger so that they can live in one big room while the rest of the house remains vacant…waiting for the next party or set of house guests.

The kids are out of the house but these boomers just don’t want to part with their furnishings. The solution is to expand the master bedroom and rarely use the rest of the house. Builders of $10 million homes say that the buyers want wet bars, drawing rooms, dressing rooms and oversized bathrooms in their master suites. A 12,000 square-foot home in Aspen has an elevator that goes from the garage straight to the master bedroom that features an office, gym, fridge, sink and coffee maker. So a portable frig is no longer a big deal. Most of the house traffic is from the bedroom to the kitchen and back.

Which begs the question. Why not combine the kitchen and the master and just never leave that one big space. Nightstands could be replaced by beverage dispensers combined with convection ovens. The headboard could be a refrigerator-freezer combo. Groceries can be delivered by Peapod and with the help of Alexa opening the front door, the delivery person can bring everything straight into the master.

If the children and grandchildren show up, they can have the rest of the house, bedrooms and living room to themselves. The boomers can remain in their stand-alone apartment and only come out when the mood strikes.

Brokers are comparing this trend to the European penchant for closing off large parts of the baronial estate. Only the Europeans have to rent out their estates for weddings and tours in order to cover their annual upkeep. Not so wealthy boomers. They can afford to cocoon themselves in extravagant master suites without ever letting the rest of the world in.

When you think about it, even not so wealthy boomers can emulate this trend. Just move into a suite at a luxury hotel and when the kids come, make then rent their own rooms. Done.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Monday, August 13, 2018

People Persons

Anti-social or just getting more picky? Baby boomers are less socially engaged than people the same age 20 years ago according to a Stanford Center on Longevity study. How do you define social engagement you might be asking? The Center defined it as something measured by involvement with family, friends, neighbors, spouses, as well as work, volunteer or community activities.

Are we deliberately pulling back on social commitments or is it due to lack of time or other pressures. Baby boomers are the sandwich generation after all, and they may be caring for elderly parents while their children may still live under their roof. The need to continue working for financial considerations is also a factor. Boomers have also moved frequently during their careers and that has limited longer-term interpersonal relations.

I recently had a discussion where a group of baby boomers agreed that while face to face socialization and bonding over common interests might be desirable, the same connection via the internet might be more satisfying and even more efficient. A hypothetical group of stamp collectors might dislike each other’s politics if they met in person, but the internet interaction helps to keep the focus on stamps. So even polarization has been a factor in discouraging more face to face interactions.

Texting and email have definitely made it easier to stay in touch with “your people.” Is that a bad thing? I don’t believe it is, but some of the Stanford researchers are concerned about what’s lost when boomers back away from meaningful engagement. Keeping to ourselves may not be good for our communities that need volunteers, mentors and civic minded participants.

I don’t foresee boomers becoming so isolated that their communities suffer as a good percentage of them will continue to be socially engaged. We may be trying to find that happy medium where we maintain quality real time people interactions along with social media interactions. Bottom line, it’s too soon to label boomers and people who don’t need people. In fact, we need people more than ever but we’re redefining how we maintain those relationships.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.