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U.S. Cities Where Retirees Have Been in Their Homes the Longest

Brad Chastain Director of Education U.S. Money Reserve

Written by Brad Chastain

May 30, 2023

While the hot real estate market of the last few years has cooled, many would-be younger homebuyers continue to struggle to purchase homes in the face of limited housing supply.

The current shortage of housing stock in the U.S. has many causes. In the wake of the Great Recession, the U.S. drastically cut the number of new home builds, failing to keep up with the needs of the population. Zoning constraints and land use regulations in many communities make it difficult for construction companies and developers to build. More recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain shortages and a tight labor market slowed the pace at which builders could complete new projects.

But one of the most significant trends affecting housing supply in the U.S. is the aging of the baby boomer generation. Baby boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—currently own more than 30 million U.S. homes. Unlike previous generations that may have sold homes later in life to downsize, move in with family, or move to an assisted living facility, baby boomers have shown a greater propensity to age in place. And as older Americans hold onto their homes, less existing supply is available for new buyers entering the market.

Chart depicting percent of U.S. real estate wealth by generation

Baby boomers have held a consistent share of real estate wealth in the U.S. for at least a quarter century. According to data from the Federal Reserve, baby boomer–owned real estate assets surpassed 40% of the U.S. total in the mid-1990s, and that number has hovered between 40 and 50% since. In the same period, Generation X and more recently the millennials have come of age and entered the market. Their combined shares of real estate wealth have grown from near zero to more than 45% today, but most of this growth has come from the decline of the Silent Generation, those born from 1928 to 1945. Data from the Census Bureau shows that while Americans over 65 represent just 17% of the population, they account for 32% of owner-occupied housing units.

Bar chart showing tenure in current home in years for 65+ households

One reason for the continued strength of baby boomers’ real estate wealth is that the generation has tended to stay in their homes for longer periods of time. As they age into their retirement years, baby boomers have proven reluctant to leave homes where they feel comfortable and where their costs are affordable. The result is that 38% of American homeowners age 65+ have lived in their home for more than 30 years, and another 39% have lived in their current home for more than a decade. Only about one out of every five retirement-age households moved within the last 10 years.

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Heatmap of the U.S. showing that seniors in the northeast and Hawaii have been in their homes the longest

That said, how long Americans are likely to remain in their homes varies widely by location. At the state level, the Northeast region—known for its high cost of living and lesser appeal to retirees—tends to have a larger proportion of seniors who have stayed in their homes the longest. Conversely, certain areas in the South and West—such as Florida, Arizona, and Nevada, which are popular retirement destinations—have a lower percentage of long-term homeownership among the 65+ age group. This is in large part attributable to a substantial influx of new retirees to these regions.

At the local level, the Northeast also dominates the list of cities where retirees have been in their homes the longest. Nine of the 15 major metro areas with the most long-term retiree homeowners are found in the Northeast. This includes five metro areas where more than 50% of homeowners age 65+ have lived in their homes for over 30 years, led by the Pittsburgh metro area at 56.5%.

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau. To determine the locations where retirement-age Americans have been in their homes the longest, researchers at U.S. Money Reserve calculated the percentage of 65-and-over households that moved in at least 30 years ago, with only owner-occupied households being considered. To improve relevance, metropolitan statistical areas were grouped into cohorts based on total population size.

Below are the U.S. metropolitan areas where seniors have been in their homes the longest.

Table of metro areas where seniors have been in their homes the longest

Large Metro Areas Where Seniors Have Been in Their Homes the Longest

City view at Camden Station in Baltimore, Maryland

Photo Credit: Sergey Novikov/Shutterstock

15. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 6%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 4%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 5%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 5%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 0%
  • 65+ share of total population: 3%

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The High Falls in Rochester, New York

Photo Credit: Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock

14. Rochester, NY

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 9%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 7%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 4%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 6%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 6%
  • 65+ share of total population: 0%
Terminal Tower in Cleveland, Ohio

Photo Credit: Kenneth Sponsler/Shutterstock

13. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 6%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 5%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 3%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 7%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 4%
  • 65+ share of total population: 4%
Boston Cityscape on a bright summer day

Photo Credit: Travellaggio/Shutterstock

12. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 0%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 5%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 7%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 3%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 8%
  • 65+ share of total population: 5%
Downtown Detroit, Michigan

Photo Credit: Ivan Cholakov/Shutterstock

11. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 3%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 0%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 0%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 0%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 1%
  • 65+ share of total population: 3%
Lower Manhattan skyline along the water

Photo Credit: dibrova/Shutterstock

10. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 5%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 1%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 4%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 6%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 9%
  • 65+ share of total population: 7%
Long Beach in Los Angeles, California

Photo Credit: Mark and Anna Photography/Shutterstock

9. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 1%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 7%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 9%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 1%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 9%
  • 65+ share of total population: 9%
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

Photo Credit: Jessica Kirsh/Shutterstock

8. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 3%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 4%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 2%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 8%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 9%
  • 65+ share of total population: 7%
Sunset over downtown San Jose, California

Photo Credit: Uladzik Kryhin/Shutterstock

7. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 9%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 2%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 9%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 1%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 9%
  • 65+ share of total population: 4%
A view of the Providence, Rhode Island skyline from Prospect Terrace Park

Photo Credit: Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock

6. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 1%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 5%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 5%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 5%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 5%
  • 65+ share of total population: 18.0%
Love Park in Philadelphia, PA

Photo Credit: Zack Frank/Shutterstock

5. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 9%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 3%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 6%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 4%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 7%
  • 65+ share of total population: 8%
Downtown cityscape of Hartford, Connecticut

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

4. Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 8%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 9%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 8%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 2%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 3%
  • 65+ share of total population: 2%
City Hall in Buffalo, New York

Photo Credit: Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

3. Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 2%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 0%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 9%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 1%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 4%
  • 65+ share of total population: 1%
Urban skyline in Honolulu, Hawaii

Photo Credit: Izabela23/Shutterstock

2. Urban Honolulu, HI

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 4%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 3%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 0%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 0%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 7%
  • 65+ share of total population: 8%
Pittsburgh skyline over the Allegheny River

Photo Credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

1. Pittsburgh, PA

  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 30+ years ago: 5%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 20+ years ago: 0%
  • Share of 65+ households that moved in 10+ years ago: 1%
  • Share of 65+ households that move in <10 years ago: 9%
  • 65+ share of owner-occupied households: 7%
  • 65+ share of total population: 8%

Methodology & Detailed Findings

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample. To determine the locations where retirement-age Americans have been in their homes the longest, researchers calculated the percentage of 65-and-over households that moved in at least 30 years ago. In the event of a tie, the location with the greater share of 65-and-over households that moved in at least 20 years ago was ranked higher. Only owner-occupied households were considered. For the purpose of this analysis, 65-and-over households were defined as those headed by an individual who was 65 or over at the time of the survey. Researchers also calculated the percentage of all owner-occupied households that are headed by someone 65 or over, as well as the 65-and-over percentage of the total population. To improve relevance, metropolitan statistical areas were grouped into cohorts based on total population size (small: 100,000–349,999, midsize: 350,000–999,999, large: 1,000,000+), and only metro areas with at least 100,000 total people were included.

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