BLUFFTON, S.C. — In Bluffton, newly retired schoolteacher Andrea Flanagan and her husband, Mark, have some big decisions to make. Not about what to do with the rest of their lives, but what not to do.
“I see other people settling down, and I feel like we are just starting up,” Andrea Flanagan says.
For the Flanagans — both 60 and born in the first year of the baby boom — retirement means activity. They're learning new skills — picking up new sports from biking to volleyball — a long way from the traditional rocking chair.
That’s par for the course for boomers who have reshaped America at every turn, says Marc Freedman, author of “Prime Time: How Baby Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement and Transform America.”
“This new generation is not only expanding the definition of activity and expanding the definition of retirement, they are actually creating something entirely new — a stage of life that hasn't existed before,” Freedman says.
In a recent survey by Pulte Homes, 50 percent of baby boomers said they plan to purchase new homes for retirement. Of those, two-thirds are relocating for a better lifestyle, which explains the boom in active retirement communities like Sun City, near Hilton Head Island, S.C., where the Flanagans are planning to buy.
The developers are building 50 communities in the next two years.
“It's not a place for them to come sit on the front porch swing, it's a chance for them to find something new,” says Scott Middleton of Pulte Homes.
Just watching them is exhausting. They are aerobicizing, pedaling, swimming, tapping and swinging their way through the new golden years. They say it's like summer camp year-round, complete with a peanut gallery.
“We were lucky enough to save some money for retirement and try to prepare for it so that we can enjoy ourselves,” says Sandy Skwarlo, a Sun City resident.
For retiring baby boomers, staying active is about more than just having fun. Many see this as the key to longer, healthier lives. They may slow down eventually, but for the first wave of boomer retirees, slowing down will have to wait.
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