Nearly 40% of Anchorage’s senior citizens are likely or very likely to move out of Anchorage in the future, according to a new survey from Anchorage Economic Development Corp. (AEDC). Designed to provide AEDC with actionable information to support retention strategies for Anchorage’s aging community, the survey sheds light on what older residents value most in a place to live.
Many key factors leading residents to leave Anchorage are beyond the community’s control, such as weather and proximity to family. But other factors are potentially within the influence of the community, such as walkable neighborhoods, senior-friendly housing and availability of groceries and shopping.
“Every time an older resident leaves our community, they take a lifetime of wealth with them to wherever they move. The baby boomer generation has accumulated hundreds of billions of dollars in personal household wealth, and billions of dollars of that wealth resides with older residents right here in Alaska. We want them to spend it here, on goods, services, excursions and on enjoying their retirement years,” said Bill Popp, president and CEO of AEDC. “I believe we have a lot of opportunities to keep older residents and seniors here, but we need to listen to what they want and look closely at what we’re providing them. We also need to look at intergenerational attraction strategies because for seniors, one of the biggest factors in a decision to leave the state is to be closer to family.”
AEDC contracted McKinley Research Group to conduct the telephone survey of Anchorage residents between the ages of 55 and 75 in spring 2021. The goal of the survey, sponsored by AARP Alaska, Cook Inlet Housing Authority and Providence Health & Services Alaska, was to gather information for strategies to retain older residents in the community. A total of 300 residents participated in the survey.
Key findings included:
- Nearly two in five (38%) respondents reported they were likely or very likely to move out of Anchorage in the future. More than half (59%) are unlikely or very unlikely to move out of Anchorage. Three percent are uncertain.
- Respondents rated their quality of life in the Anchorage area an average of 7.7 on a 1-to-10 scale, where 1 is “very poor and 10 is “very good.”
- Respondents were asked to rate the level of importance for a variety of amenities and services when making future housing decisions. Among the highest-ranking factors were a yard (88% reported it to be important), close to groceries and shopping (82%) and neighborhood walkability that reduces the need for a car (77%).
- When asked to rate various aspects of Anchorage, the highest-rated aspects were outdoor recreation (88% rated it as either good or very good) and health care (82%). The lowest rated aspects were walkability (56%) and public transportation (42%).
- Among residents who were unlikely to move out of Anchorage, the most important factors in their decision to stay were availability of health care (60% reported this to be very important) and the ability to own a home (59%).
- Residents likely to move within Anchorage were most interested in single-family, standalone homes with a yard and indoor parking. Desired home sizes are modest (three quarters want a home under 2,000 square feet).
- Respondents rated their household economic well-being an average of 7.1 out of 10.
The full report is available here.
AEDC is a private nonprofit corporation, operating since 1987. It exists to encourage growth and diversity in the Anchorage economy, promote a favorable business climate and improve the standard of living of Anchorage residents.
Spencer Shroyer, AEDC