Throughout their lives, many of Hawaii’s baby boomers have viewed the world and lived their lives differently than previous generations. So it’s not surprising that as they reach middle age, their dream retirement home also differs from that of their predecessors.

Many local baby boomers are not planning to downscale after they retire, or at least not to the extent that their parents did. Today, the middle-aged population in Hawaii has grown accustomed to larger homes. And it’s not just in Hawaii. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of new American homes has doubled in the last half century (from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,225 square feet in 1999).

That’s not to say local baby boomers aren’t planning for the future in practical ways. As they approach their middle age in life, more and more of them are choosing flexible homes that will allow them to age in place. These are some of the amenities that they are looking for:

• In general, this group wants open floor plans; wider hallways and 30-inch (minimum) doorways make homes appealing without giving them an “old folks” look. This can be accomplished in smaller homes by creating fewer, larger rooms.


• Oversized windows make a home bright and airy, while providing the extra light that may be necessary as visual acuity decreases. Task lighting should also be added in work areas in the kitchen and garage.

• Adequate dining space is especially important as they have more time for extended family gatherings and entertaining. Given the choice between a formal living and dining room, most will choose the dining room.

• The master bedroom should be large enough to accommodate a wheelchair after furniture is in place. The master bath should also have ample clearance, plus a walk-in shower, preferably with a built-in seat.


• Kitchens should have room for a wheel-chair to move around freely. Side-by-side refrigerator/freezers and side-swing or wall ovens are easier for someone in a wheelchair to use. Microwaves should be at counter height or in a wall. Cabinet heights and provisions such as pull-down shelving can be adjusted and added as the need arises.

• Garages should be at least 22 feet wide (for a double garage) with an adequate access aisle around vehicles.

If Hawaii’s boomers do some extra planning, they can eliminate the need to move or renovate their home in 10 or 15 years. Incorporating these extra features during construction is much easier and less expensive than after the home has been built.


Call 352-2548 for a free consultation.

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