Older adults: to move or not to move?

The corner view of an apartment building with red and white walls and a blue roof. To move or not to move.There are many reasons people move house, or don’t move, in later life. It is often said that older people want to stay put, but this may not be the case. A recent study from Berlin, Germany looked at this issue in depth. While some of the findings might be specific to Berlin, the article raises questions that need further research. 

The researchers found that variables such as social class, gender, age and migrant history were not necessarily measures of movement behaviour. The top three reasons that emerged were: to have a smaller apartment, an obstacle-free apartment, and to have to a cheaper apartment. 

The title of the article is, Why Do(n’t) People Move When They Get Older? Estimating the Willingness to Relocate in Diverse Ageing Cities.  This is an open access article in Urban Planning journal. The results indicate decisions to move are multifaceted. Older adults are not an homogeneous group with the same needs. As with other studies, older people want the same things as younger people. 

From the abstract

Two of the dominant processes shaping today’s European cities are the ageing and diversification of the population. The living environment around the place of residence plays an important role in the social integration of the older generation. 

We have chosen Berlin as a case study which shows that age impacts people’s past and planned movement. There is a peak in the decisions to move at the age of 65-75 and a drop in the inclination to move among people over 80. Our study suggests that variables other than classic socio-demographic data, such as apartment size, rent, social networks, and health, are a starting point for achieving a full picture of older people’s movement behaviour.