High Rise Living… Have You Thought About Transitioning From Your Single Family Home?
Urbanization has been a dominant force in U.S. real estate over the past decade, with cities, such as our own St. Petersburg, seeing an influx of residents transitioning from a detached home to a high rise.
For example, Washington, D.C has added more than 100,000 people since 1998 and San Francisco has gained 45,000 residents since 2010. In Miami, the downtown population has grown by nearly 50,000 since 2000 – a 100 percent increase.
While conventional wisdom tells us urban areas are swelling as working professionals prioritize factors like location and access to jobs over the sheer size of their home, city living is also appealing to retirees and empty nesters. In a recent study conducted by the AARP, half of adults age 45 or older said living in a walkable area was important to them during retirement. With land in metro areas becoming scarce, developers are taking to the skies to meet housing demand in urban neighborhoods – especially when it comes to catering to buyers age 50 and up, which are projected to control 70 percent of the nation’s disposable wealth by next year.
The skylines of major cities across the country are welcoming new cranes at a fast clip, leaving homebuyers with a dizzying array of options when it comes to choosing a high rise condominium or apartment. That’s good news for buyers and renters, but any search for a new home should begin with a clear list of priorities that will help cut through the clutter.
Here are 5 factors to consider when weighing a move to a high-rise.
1. Think about what’s outside your front door: Life in a high rise is often a trade-off: what you give up in private space, you gain in amenities and access. Many residents improve their quality of life by treating the surrounding neighborhood as an extension of their home. In places like Miami’s Coconut Grove, that means living within walking distance of parks, cafes, bookstores, museums and the city’s top public and private schools.
2. Crunch the numbers: Moving into a high-rise can mean reducing the budget (and stress) that comes with maintaining a home. Gone are the days of mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool, shoveling snow, and hiring a house sitter during your next vacation. While homeowners association fees, taxes, and insurance can add-up, most residents experience lower maintenance and utilities costs in a high-rise versus a house. Be sure to create a budget before buying.
3. The latest technology: Since retrofitting a high rise tower with new technology is often cost-prohibitive, residents should seek out buildings equipped with the latest advances when it comes to energy efficiency, wiring, and construction materials. Take electric cars, for example. They may not be everywhere today, but they’re expected to account for up to 35 percent of all new car sales by 2040. Forward-looking developers are planning their building garages to accommodate this shift, and savvy buyers are following their lead.
4. Services and staff: All high-rise buildings are made of glass, steel and concrete. What sets one building apart from another comes down to the services offered on-site and the people who deliver them. Amenities like pet spas, private dining rooms, wine cellars, manicured gardens, direct beach access, rooftop decks and premium fitness centers can mean the difference between a best-in-class building that gains value over time, and a run-of-the-mill building that’s little more than a commodity.
5. Creature comforts: The urbanization phenomenon has taken the country by storm over the past decade, meaning today’s homebuyers are more likely to have grown up in a suburban home. Rest assured, moving into an apartment or condo doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing the elements that make a home feel like ‘home.’ Many developers are introducing high ceilings, expansive floor plans, outdoor green spaces and even private garages in an effort to win over buyers accustomed to large, spread-out homes.
In addition to these factors, advances in architecture and construction are also dramatically improving the way developers design and build their projects. Factor in the lifestyle advantages found in many urban neighborhoods – including a tight-knit sense of community that converts strangers into neighbors – and you begin to see how high rise living can mean heightened quality of life and added convenience.
Contributed to Forbes magazine by David Martin