Baby boomers certainly don’t fit the mold when it comes to housing preferences. While a big part of them continue to be homeowners, an impressive number of this cohort is joining younger generations on the renting bandwagon and showing a growing interest in big city life. But which places can be crowned as the most popular to live for baby boomers? To answer this question, we analyzed Census data in the 250 largest U.S. cities and looked at the share and population of baby boomers in these cities by zip code. Here’s what we found:
- The Top 20 zip codes with the largest baby boomer population show that this generation is not tied to the suburbs only. Many boomers actually prefer the city life, making New York a serious contender for the title of most popular place to live for baby-boomers.
- A Las Vegas zip occupies the first place in Top 20 zip codes with the highest increase in baby boomers, in the company of other zip codes in the Southwest and the West.
- A number of zip codes in popular retirement cities in warm states like Florida and Arizona dominate the list of Top 20 zips codes with the largest share of baby boomers (defined as those born between 1948 and 1962).
New York dominates the top 20 zips with the largest boomer population
The most populous city in the U.S., New York has the largest population of baby boomers. This certainly challenges the myth that all seniors prefer Florida with New York City boasting almost half as many baby boomers as the entire state of Florida – 1.4 million versus 3.9 million. Claiming 14 zip codes in our top 20, NYC does a fairly good job catering to the needs of its older residents with various senior discounts (from transportation to entertainment), social programs, and cultural activities.
Brooklyn’s 11234, encompassing the neighborhoods of Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, and Flatlands, is home to the largest population belonging to this generation of all the zip codes analyzed – 19,450, followed by the neighboring 11236, which overlaps Canarsie, with 18,672.
Upper West Side’s 10025, third in our list with an 18,277 total number of baby boomers, is also the 10th most expensive zip in the U.S., with rents going for about $4,444 a month.
Texas also has several zip codes with a considerable senior population. El Paso’s 79936 made the 10th spot with a total boomer population of 15,784, followed by Houston’s 77084 with 14,806 and Grand Prairie’s 75052 with 14,100.
Las Vegas’ 89138 is the trendiest zip code for baby boomers
While the South continues to appeal to this cohort, claiming 9 of the top 20 zips in our list, zip codes in Western and Southwestern cities like Las Vegas, Austin, or Phoenix are starting to attract more and more seniors. In fact, zip 89138 on the west side of Las Vegas tops the list of trending zip codes for baby boomers, with the sharpest increase, 79% in just 5 years. Living in Las Vegas can be a smart choice for seniors as they get to enjoy not just sunny weather, but also a wide range of entertainment options, and that laissez-faire lifestyle that the area has to offer, without having to put a lot of money into housing and taxes. According to the latest Census data, close to 2,000 residents belonging to the baby-boomer generation called this area home, but given this rapid rate of increase, that number is bound to rise.
The second trendiest boomer zip code is 78754 in Austin, with a 74% rise in boomer-aged residents. Located on the Northeast side of town, within close proximity to two of the area’s largest parks, the zip is home to about 2,800 baby boomers and growing, according to the most recent Census reports.
Third on our list and home to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is zip 85212 with a 66% increase in baby boomers. The area’s relatively affordable housing costs, as well as the variety of leisure activities, make this zip code a top choice for almost 4,000 boomers.
However, looking at the bigger picture, retirement states like Texas and Arizona remain popular among Millennials’ parents – Texas showcases eight zips and Arizona, four (85085, 85212, and 85298, 85012).
The zips with the largest share of baby boomers are mostly spread across Arizona and Florida
Colloquially known as a major retirement destination, Arizona has 5 zip codes with the largest share of seniors. With an affordable cost of living and a warm dry climate, the state is a favorite among active adults. This is especially true in zip 85266, Boulders, Scottsdale, which boasts a 35% share, or 4,351 baby boomers. It’s no secret that the zip also hosts many social and medical assistance facilities, as well as plenty of entertainment spots. Scottsdale is followed by 85739, Tucson, with a 30% share of boomers. Other Arizona zips with a considerable share of baby boomers include 85749 (29%), 85718 (27%), and 85737 (27%).
As expected, Texas didn’t miss the spotlight as a top destination for seniors, with a 30% share of baby boomers, coming in third with Amarillo’s 79121. Florida follows close behind, with 4 zips in our top. Pompano Beach’s 33062 has a share of 30%, same as Fort Lauderdale’s 33308 which comes 5th, despite boasting the highest net number of boomers in the top – 8,051.
Baby boomer versus millennial zip codes
Looking at the largest shares of millennials and baby boomers side-by-side, it’s easy to notice a certain pattern. Most popular zip codes for millennials are found in big cities like San Francisco, New York, Washington, DC, and Chicago, among many others. Given the wide pool of job opportunities and entertainment options, these zip codes do more than just meet the needs of young millennials.
On the other hand, the zip codes with the largest shares of baby boomers are mainly found in mid-sized and small cities like Reno, NV, Tucson, AZ, or Fort Lauderdale, FL. However, not all boomers prefer a quaint city to call home, with zip codes in Portland, OR and Las Vegas claiming some of the largest shares of seniors.
Use the interactive map below to see the top trending baby boomer zip codes by state
- Report prepared by RENTCafe, a nationwide apartment search website.
- Data source: U.S. Census Bureau ACS 5-year population estimates for 2012 and 2017.
- We defined baby boomers as people born between 1948-1962 and millennials born between 1977-1995.
- To generate the national rankings, we took into account zip codes in U.S. cities with a total population of over 100,000 residents.
- To generate the rankings by state, we took into account zip codes in the 250 largest U.S. cities by population.
- We factored out zip codes with less than 1,000 baby boomer residents.
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