Seniors Love the Suburbs

Which is common sense as one gets wiser with age. I know I’m a heck of a lot smarter at 75 than I was at 35.

Today fully 87% of seniors live in the suburbs (as do we) or exurbs, as this article from New Geography reports.

An excerpt.

The percentage of the population 65 or over is increasing rapidly both in the United States and in other countries, principally due to declining fertility rates and longer lifespans. Census Bureau projections indicate that the share of the population 65 or over will increase more than one quarter from 2010 to 2020. The Census Bureau population pyramid indicates that the age cohorts reaching 65 over the next 15 years are increasingly large (See photograph above).

The distribution of senior population in the major metropolitan areas is similar to that of the overall population, though seniors tend to be more congregated outside the urban core than people of all ages (Figure 2). Overall, 13.0 percent of the senior population lives in the two Urban Core classifications (CBD or Central Business District and Inner Ring), while 87.0 percent lives in the three classifications outside the Urban Core (Earlier Suburban, Later Suburban and Exurban classifications). This is similar to the distribution of the population of all ages, which is 14.5 percent in the urban core and 85.5 percent in the suburbs and exurbs.

The reality is that senior citizens are predominantly staying in their predominantly suburban or exurban communities. In 2000, 15.5 percent of seniors lived in the urban cores of the major metropolitan areas. By 2010, the share of seniors living in urban cores had declined to 13.7 percent. This included 1.4 percent in the Urban Core: CBD (Central Business District) and 12.3 percent in the Urban Core: Inner Ring. By 2012/2016 the share of senior population living in the urban cores dropped to 13.0 percent, 1.3 percent in the CBDs and 11.7 percent in the Inner Rings. Less than 10 percent of the senior growth (9.4 percent) from 2010 was in the Urban Core.

The overwhelming majority of the senior population growth was in the suburbs and exurbs. In 2010, 86.3 percent of the senior population was suburban or exurban. By 2012/2016, this figure had edged up to 87.0 percent. More than 90 percent of the senior population growth was in the suburbs and exurbs.

These results are counter to the periodic anecdote-based press reports of seniors moving to the urban core. (for example, a Business Insider story “Millions of Seniors Are Moving Back to the Big Cities”). However, anecdotes reveal trends only when they add up, and in this case they do not. The reality is that, since 2000, the net increase in the urban core senior population has been nearly 85 percent short of a single million (only 156,000). In contrast, the senior increase in the suburbs and exurbs has been nearly six times a million (5,900,000). Seniors, like other age groups, increasingly live in the suburbs and exurbs.

In numeric terms, the Later Suburbs (generally outer suburbs) gained approximately 1.25 million seniors. The Earlier Suburbs (generally inner suburbs) gained nearly 1.1 million, while the exurbs gained 700,000. These more automobile oriented components of metropolitan areas gained considerably more than the Urban Core components. The Urban Core: Inner Ring added nearly 250,000, while the Urban Core: CBD added 30,000.

With the increasing share that seniors represent of the overall population, the growth rates are substantial in each of the City Sector Model categories. Senior population has been growing at 3.6 percent annually in the major metropolitan areas. This is approximately five times the recent rate for the total population in the United States.

Retrieved February 7, 2018 from


About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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