I just got back from a week-long trip to Florida, and quite frankly, I'm still a bit bummed to be back in Indiana. My husband and I drove 14 hours to hang out in 70 degree-weather for six days. And although I was dragging ass yesterday and even today, it was worth every minute on the road. It reminded me of spring in the Midwest--with the exception of the ocean, lizards and palm trees. You get my point. Cool mornings and warm afternoons. Fresh fish at every turn. The best oranges and pineapple I've ever tasted. But I digress.
We visited my in-laws who are renting a villa for a month in a beautiful retirement community known as The Villages. The place is huge. It's not a few buildings; it's a town. More than 51,000 people live there and it the area stretches for miles. It's full of recreation centers, golf courses, restaurants, shops, public spaces, and town squares. There's even a museum-like recreation center filled with war memorabilia donated by WWI, WWII and Korean War vets who live there. It's a poignant, respectful display of U.S. war history. As a matter of fact, each recreation center in The Villages is perfectly appointed with appropriate decor and flair. The entire village is manicured immaculately and everything is very clean. It's a bit too white for me, but it's a lovely place to visit.
I started wondering as we drove through addition after addition of homes--who will live here when the Traditionalists and Baby Boomers die off? The median age is 70 and they're getting older every day. Traditionalists and Baby Boomers outnumber Gen Xers by at least 30 million nationally. Yes, 30 million! So when we're reaching retirement age in the next 15-20 years, a significant portion of those populations will be gone. Who will live there? Will Gen Xers move there and change the dynamic of the area?
While there's no lack of northerners moving to Florida, I wonder what The Villages will become. Gen Xers (and Millennials for that matter) don't value the same things our parents and grandparents do. Golf, card games, Rotary Club, line dancing, bridge clubs and collecting war memorabilia won't be our primary activities. Will Soundgarden come and play the town square gazebo? Will the cast of Friends make a special appearance in one of the recreation centers? Possibly. Things do evolve and change, so activities likely will too.
It's the numbers issue that keeps my brain gears turning. With a sharp decline in population, who will live in these places? Since a good chunk of Gen Xers are moving to urban areas and progressive cities like Portland, will they leave to head south?
What are your thoughts?