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Can Large Retirement Communities Grow Too Big to Survive?

If a retirement community’s residents don’t work, who does? Big ones, such as The Villages, can’t attract enough working-age adults, and labor costs keep going up.

NEW YORK – Peachtree Creek Investments founder and Bloomberg Opinion columnist Conor Sen writes that Florida and other popular retirement destinations could be squeezed by labor shortages. He notes that the Villages retirement community in Florida was one of the two fastest-growing metro areas in the 2010s, the other being South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach.

“The question now is how they’re going to sustain their growth in an era where labor isn’t so cheap, and where retirees aren’t necessarily the groups of people best-positioned to win bidding wars for service workers,” Sen says.

Employers in the Villages face a lack of workers, and the openness of Florida’s economy during the pandemic inspires little hope that the shortage will be mitigated by further pandemic-related rebounds. Meanwhile, Miami and Tampa are the two U.S. hotel markets that already recouped pandemic-related losses.

“One possible future for retirement communities can be glimpsed in what happened in the technology industry over the past several years,” Sen writes. “Too much industry concentration on the West Coast drove up costs and led to a shortage of resources, requiring activity to be spread out across the country.”

Sen speculates a slowdown in the growth of large-scale, single-purpose retirement communities like the Villages, while traction could build in lower-cost secondary markets in states, including in other states, such as North Carolina or Tennessee.

Source: Bloomberg Opinion (05/27/21) Sen, Conor

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