The kids have grown up and moved out. Retirement is on the horizon. There’s money and time to enjoy the things you never could. Friends have moved on from the quiet neighborhood the kids grew up in.
You might find yourself looking to try something new. Perhaps it’s time to move to urban Columbus.
Seventy-year-old Barbara Collins found herself in this exact position when she and her husband, Pat, decided it was time to leave Clintonville and that the bigger the change, the better.
“We had decided many years ago that we were going to make this kind of move,” says Collins. “I felt my world was getting smaller; we loved the house, we loved the street, we loved everything about it. And then the street went one direction and we went the other.”
The Collinses aren’t the only ones leaving the suburbs for the city center. According to EMSI, a company that curates labor market data using information from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Health Department, from 2001 to 2015, downtown Columbus saw a nearly 20 percent increase in populations aged 55-69. Groups aged 20-24 and 40-44 years even decreased by 10 percent from 2001 to 2015, with age groups between 25 and 39 showing an increase of 10-13 percent.
This rise in older populations and leveling out in younger populations has been recent and steady. In just the four years between 2001 and 2005, Columbus saw a 38 percent jump in population for the 55-59 age group and a 20 percent jump in the 60-64 age group. At the same time, the 30-34 group decreased in size by 6 percent, and 35-39 year olds decreased by 3 percent.
With the ongoing construct of high-end condominiums in Columbus, the city’s increasing accessibility to necessities and entertainment, and the increasing desire for an active lifestyle, Columbus is appealing more and more to older demographics.
“I think it’s part of an overall trend where people are re-entering urban lifestyles,” says Linda Brincks, a real estate consultant with HER the Raines Group. “Now we see people – both empty nesters and young professionals – that are making a choice to come back to places where urban centers are in walking distance, so I think it’s the desire to simplify life.”
Brincks is not only helping empty-nesters and retirees move to their dream locations in the city. She and her husband, Dave, are moving to the city as well after living in New Albany for 15 years.
“We have always loved cities, and we’re empty-nesters now,” says Brincks. “We love being able to walk over to the Scioto Mile and being able to go to restaurants outdoors, and we also are avid bike riders and we used to ride into the countryside. Now, we just jump on the bike paths.”
Mary Beth and Bill McCallion lived in Westerville for 35 years before getting bored of suburbia. After visiting their son in Chicago and falling in love with the concept of being within walking distance of restaurants and entertainment, the McCallions decisively knew what their next move was.
“There’s so much Downtown. We can walk (if) we want to go to the Short North. We can walk or take an Uber if we want to go to the theater, and we plan to take advantage of that when we’re so close,” says Bill. “There’s so much right now being offered Downtown.”
As Columbus changed to accommodate their demographic, the McCallions watched as their suburb changed, too. Younger families began moving in and the McCallions no longer felt they fit in.
“We’ve kind of outgrown the neighborhood,” says Mary Beth. “It’s gone through the transition of younger families moving in, and we’re ready for a lot more interaction with people our age.”
Though it may be worth it in the end, the process of moving from a large house to a small condo can be one of the drawbacks of moving into the city. Deciding what items to keep and what items to throw away, combined with the pressure of selling the home, may make for a stressful time.
“The last six months of my life was not enjoyable because we were selling our house. There was so much to get rid of. It was just chaos for about six months,” says Collins. “I drove away from there and I drove to almost a new life.”
But with increasing amenities in the city for empty-nesters come businesses willing to help those looking to move make the transition. Joannie Bonanno, a consultant with estate sale company Everything but the House, helps homeowners organize all of their possessions and sell what they no longer need or desire.
“I definitely see people who are vibrant and excited about the next phase of their life; they’re just happy to start a new lifestyle,” says Bonanno. “Knowing the resource is available gets people over the hurdle of making this transition.”
After everything is said and done and all that’s left to do is settle in to the new condo, apartment or home, the fun begins for people who have lived so far from the hustle and bustle of the city for so long. It becomes realistic to jam-pack one’s weekend with plans. The conundrum of driving home after a night out at a bar (or bars) disappears when the restaurants are in walking distance of home and when services like Uber come into play. Life gets more exciting, yet simpler.
“There’s nothing that’s been more exciting for me than being downtown and watching the new restaurants and buildings and the new excitement,” says Brincks. “I believe it’s going to continue to improve and become a more desirable place to be. I only imagine that getting better.”
As Columbus becomes more and more accessible – with increased luxury housing, retail and recreation – it is expected to see more variation in the age demographics. For now, people like Collins will continue to enjoy the amenities and excitement that starting a new life in Columbus can offer.
“I wake up in the morning and I can decide what I want to do – whatever I want to do,” says Collins. “I’ve always felt, in retirement, that I was a kid again on summer vacation.”
Amanda DePerro is an assistant editor. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the builders catering to higher-end urban homebuyers
Those moving into the city from the suburbs may have to downsize, but they don’t have to compromise.
Builders are seeing the demand for high-end living in urban areas of Columbus and are meeting that demand with condominiums and apartment complexes whose thresholds are just a few blocks from the Short North and other desirable spots.
One such builder is Truberry Custom Homes, which is building homes right next to the Short North. Truberry on Summit and the upcoming Truberry on Hubbard are complexes in Italian Village, just a few short steps away from the Short North.
This part of Columbus is the perfect location for empty-nesters and retirees because of the amenities the Short North has to offer, says Lori Steiner, president of Truberry.
“Our city is energizing on a lot of different levels,” says Steiner. “The Short North has become the destination of choice primarily because of the great restaurants in the area. … You can decide where you want to go and what you want to do, and friends love to come down and visit for the evening.”
Truberry’s location on Summit leaves little to be desired. With hardwood floors, exposed brick, high ceilings and three floors of living space, the condos offer all the comfort and luxury of the suburbs while still being located in the heart of Columbus. Each even includes a two-car garage – a rarity in city living.
“We all still feel like we’re 25, and living in the Short North allows you to be there with the energy,” says Steiner. “It’s a lifestyle change. … People are doing it to not drive as much, to be where the action is.”