NAHB analysis of data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows that, despite popular belief, the geographic distribution of households headed by someone age 55 or older is fairly even across most of the country. In every state, these 55+ households account for over 30 percent of all households.
On a national level, 43.9 million households are headed by someone 55 years old or higher, accounting for nearly 38 percent of all U.S. households. Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the 55+ household share ranges from 31 to 45 percent. West Virginia tops all states, with 45 percent of its households headed by someone 55 or older, followed by Florida at 44 percent, Hawaii and Maine (each at 43 percent) and Pennsylvania and Montana (at 42 percent). At the other end of the scale, Utah and Alaska are the only states where less than one-third of the households are 55+.
The 55+ household share is also over than 30 percent for 97 percent of the 3,143 county and county equivalents in the U.S. At the high end, 44 counties have a 55+ household share of over 60 percent. Mineral County, Colo., and Sumter County, Fla., are the highest ranked counties in the U.S. with 77 percent of their households headed by someone 55 or older. Sierra County, N.M., follows closely behind at 74 percent, while both Esmeralda County, Nev., and Wheeler County, Ore., come in at 71 percent each.
Some of the extreme cases of “young” and “old” counties don’t contain many households, but there are five counties in Florida that have both a 55+ household share above 60% and more than 38,000 total households: Charlotte, Citrus, Highlands, Sarasota, and Sumter. For developers who may be looking for “exceptional” 55+ markets, these 5 counties in Florida form a distinct category.
For tables showing the 55+ household share, as well as the number of 55+ owners, renters, and totals in each state and county, see the complete study.