NH Public Policy
New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies

Housing in NH, Pt 2: Senior Perspectives

Executive Summary

Date: April 17th, 2014

This paper is the second installment of a three-part analysis of housing needs and production in New Hampshire, conducted with support from The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority. Slower state population and job growth have resulted in a dramatically reduced demand for new housing, as reflected in trends in occupied units in the state. As many state economists and demographers see this slower growth continuing, the housing market is facing a fundamental shift. This report examines senior (age 65+) housing needs. 

Among the major findings of this analysis:

Seniors Will Occupy a Growing Proportion of the State’s Housing Units.New Hampshire has the fourth oldest median age population in the country and a concomitant higher ratio of seniors to total population than is typical among the 50 states. Seniors represent 14 percent of the state’s population today. This ratio will double in the coming decades. Seniors now fill one in five of the state’s occupied housing units. This will grow to one in three by 2025. The number of senior households in the state, both owners and renters, will nearly double by 2025.

There is a Housing Mismatch. There is a mismatch between the characteristics of the state’s seniors and its housing inventory—too many small households in too many large housing units. One- and two-person households dominate the profile of the state’s seniors, many of which are ideally served by two bedroom units. But, there are only 188,500 two-bedroom units in the state (most of which are rental units) versus more than 300,000 units with three or more bedrooms. Given the relative paucity of young households in the state, it is unclear whether the larger units built for boomers during their child-rearing years will draw sufficient interest from buyers in future years.

Seniors Prefer to Age in Place. Only 3 percent of seniors move annually, based on regional data. Only 18 percent of the state’s seniors moved in the past five years, versus 55 percent of those aged 18-46. The notion that as soon as seniors retire they will move to smaller units is not borne out by the data.

Aging in Place has Limits. There are important limits on the ability of seniors to age in place, including high rates of disability, lower income and savings, limited transportation options in many parts of the state, and the decline in the size of the caregiver workforce.

Report File