When Urban Life is Calling Your Name: A Look at SA Downtown Living

If you’re flipping through cable channels on any given Friday night, you’re bound to see plenty of sparkling, glamorous shots of downtown city life: crisp, blue collars in sleek high rises, giggling club-goers in designer high heels, and extravagant brunch spreads on Sunday mornings...all being enjoyed by an overwhelming majority of young people.

Through the lens of popular TV shows like “New Girl” and “How I Met Your Mother”, urban downtowns seem to be exclusive playgrounds of beautiful millennials spouting off wry witticisms and looking for love in all the wrong places (all while wearing impeccably pressed outfits, of course).

But, as is usually the case, this technicolor stereotype is far from true. The reality? While more and more millennials are slowly but surely moving to the suburbs, the urban downtown scene has rapidly been attracting a new demographic: retirees and empty nesters.

Surprised? The numbers don’t lie. The amount of Baby Boomers and empty nesters living downtown has actually been on the rise for years. In a recent survey, found that 22% of Boomers bought homes in downtown areas. And while these urbanite retirees are still less common than their suburban-dwelling counterparts (49%), we think the trend has some serious merit.

Once you think about it, the logic is astoundingly intuitive: when the kids grow up and out of the house, most empty nesters end up with far more space (and freedom) than they know what to do with. Rather than keep up with the dust that settles on an empty house, many retirees choose to downsize to a more manageable home. (If you’ve found yourself in interested in downsizing space without comfort, check with a lender to see how much you can afford!)

Rather than downsize to another home in the same suburban sprawl, this new surge of empty nesters has chosen to scope out the city scene. With an array of gorgeous, low-maintenance properties, a high sense of community, and plenty of entertainment, shopping, and dining options, downtown might just be a mecca for anyone looking to experience San Antonio to its fullest potential. 

So...Why San Antonio?

Okay, we get it: not every city’s downtown is going to hold a peachy glow for retirees; however, we think San Antonio is pretty close to perfect for this increasingly trendy demographic. And the numbers agree! The Census Bureau reported that Bexar County’s Baby Boomer population (ages 65+) increased by over 31,000 residents between 2000 and 2010. The Brookings Institution also reported that San Antonio had “the eighth-highest boost from migration among people ages 55 and older [from 2008 and 2010 among the nation's largest metropolitan areas].” So why does downtown San Antonio hold so much appeal? Below are five of our top reasons the Alamo City’s urban scene is perfect for retirees.

1. Walkability

In a city largely dependent on automated transportation, downtown offers something incredibly desirable to empty nesters: a chance to experience the resurgence of the urban pedestrian. Many downtown neighborhoods offer high levels of walkability, a factor that is expected to drive an increase in real estate value over the next 30 years. Residents of downtown only have to take a short, leisurely stroll to visit local coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques, and cultural attractions like museums and the River Walk. Retired urban people who live in urban areas tend to lead more heavily active and healthy than those in the suburbs. With the heart of San Antonio culture right at your doorstep, neighborhoods like Southtown, Lavaca, and King William offer something the suburbs can’t!

306 Carolina St (Lavaca)

2. A Sense of Community

For a state as big as Texas, our signature vibe is decidedly cozy. Whether it’s our homestyle cooking or our Southern hospitality, we’ve heard it from both visitors and residents: “Texas feels like home.” And we don’t think any part of San Antonio exemplifies this trait quite as much as downtown. Because while the suburbs may be peaceful and secluded, they don’t lend themselves to the kind of community that downtown seems to cultivate. Tight-knit neighborhoods like Dignowity Hill and Southtown foster a sense of community through day-to-day interactions and neighborhood buy-in. This sort of togetherness helps residents feel a sense of inclusion and community belonging...a valuable thing to empty nesters looking for new friends!

232 E Cevallos St (Southtown)

3. Plenty to Do

Naturally, one of the biggest draws of downtown San Antonio is its wide array of unique cultural attractions! As empty nesters move towards this new phase of life, many will choose to explore new avenues of interest that had to be put off by the busyness of family and work life. Life in the downtown area offers abundant chances to start that photography hobby or become an amateur art enthusiast. From free nights at local museums to affordable golfing to San Antonio’s many urban parks (not to mention copious amounts of delicious Mexican food), the amenities available to residents are copious. Pubs, coffee shops, entertainment venues, boutiques, libraries, places of worship, and even health care facilities are at your fingertips! Downtown has plenty to keep you occupied.

315 Lamar St (Dignowity Hill)

4. Cost of Living

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: it pays to live in San Antonio. San Antonio renters 65 and older paid a median rent of $650 monthly in 2012...that’s approximately $70 less than the national median, according to the American Community Survey! Besides the obvious rent costs, San Antonians also enjoy a low cost of living, which includes everything from groceries to gas. If you’re going to live in a downtown area, San Antonio’s is going to be far more affordable than neighboring metroplexes like Austin, Dallas, and Houston. Check with a lender to see just how much you can afford!

407 Wickes St (King William)

5. Quality over Quantity

So we’ve established that retirees and empty nesters tend to enjoy the benefits of downsizing..but why does downtown San Antonio hold unique leverage in this camp? While suburban neighborhoods do indeed offer smaller properties with great amenities, downtown San Antonio seems to hold the highest inventory of homes that exude both luxury and efficiency. With homes and condos that boast fantastic locations, skyline views, historic details, and modern comforts, downtown homes offer less yard work, more hot tubs, and easier access to that neighborhood happy hour down the street.

You may be surprised to learn just how much you can afford...if you’re looking for your own corner of the San Antonio downtown skyline, check with a lender and discover more homes like the ones we’ve listed above!