The Washington Post
For baby boomers, the desert beckons
An Arizona community combines rural charm with upscale amenities.
When Brian and Jasmine Jones spent a “stay-andplay” weekend at the planned community of Wickenburg Ranch, a Trilogy Resort Community in Wickenburg, Ariz., they knew immediately that they had found their future retirement home. In that pre-pandemic time, the couple was assigned an “ambassador” to show them around, introduce them to people and answer questions. Brian was hooked from the moment he played the “Big Wick” golf course.
“When Jasmine suggested looking at Wickenburg Ranch, I questioned why we would look way out there, practically off the grid,” says Brian, a 62-year-old internal auditor for Cort Furniture. “But the golf courses are great, and the area is beautiful, so we fell in love with it right away.”
The planned community of Wickenburg Ranch, which is about one-half sold out, will have approximately 1,500 to 1,600 homes when it’s complete in two or three years. The community is what is known as a naturally occurring retirement community, with most of the residents ages 55 and older.
“The majority of the neighborhoods are age-targeted, with one-level homes that have two or three bedrooms and a location that appeals to retirees, pre-retirees and winter visitors,” says Chris Haines, president of VT Landgroup, the developer of Wickenburg Ranch. “We also have a few age-restricted neighborhoods where the homeowners must be 55 or older.”
A baby boomer trend
The pandemic-related isolation pushed many baby boomers to speed up their moving plans, says Deborah Blake, principal of the Ipsum Group, a researcher on people ages 55 and older, and a real estate consultant in Phoenix.
“Baby boomers want out of their big single-family homes into a smaller place without steps, and the pandemic caused a lot of people to decide not to wait to downsize their home and upsize their life,” Blake says. “The isolation from their friends, family and grandkids made them want to make the most of their time and accelerate their plans. Plus, with millennials eager to move to larger suburban homes, low mortgage rates and rising home prices, more baby boomers were motivated to sell.”
Arizona has always been a popular retirement destination because of its weather and low cost of living, Haines says.
“About one-third of the buyers at Wickenburg Ranch are from California,” Haines says. “The real estate prices are significantly lower here, along with taxes and utilities. Another one-third come from the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest, especially from Chicago. The other one-third