Boomers see opportunities in growing city
Laura Routledge already had a lifetime of large-home living in her rear-view mirror when she first started thinking about moving to Airdrie
“I raised my two kids in Carstairs, so I (was) familiar with the area and watched it grow,” said the 61-year-old. “I had a huge house in Chestermere and my husband passed away suddenly six years ago, so that was the incentive to downsize.”
With a son and daughter-in-law already established in the growing city just north of Calgary, Routledge packed up her belongings, her two cats and hopes of a more tranquil life in Airdrie.
The active baby boomer sought several condominium properties before landing in the southwest community of Bayside in the new Rivairo Townhome Condominium project.
Routledge said she was drawn to the bright and airy multi-level, 1,300-square-foot design, which included glass-lined stairways, basement, two-car garage and front views of a park and canal system.
“The biggest draw for me was (the) kitchen (was) just to die for. The design was radically different from anything that I’ve ever seen and very modern. That was very appealing,” said Routledge, who paid $306,000 for the end unit in March 2014, in addition to $131 monthly condo fees.
Touted as a haven for young families wanting to escape big-city life, Airdrie is also becoming recognized by the middle-life, empty-nesting crowd as a viable place to downsize their living space.
According to the 2015 city census, more than 15,000 of the 58,690 people who call Airdrie home fall in the 45-74 age bracket, with an additional 1,214 aged 75 years and over.
Many developers are responding to middle-age buyers wishing to free themselves of back-breaking yard work, snow shoveling and regular home maintenance with row housing and apartment-style projects. The adult-only Woodside Golf Club community that exists in the city’s northwest will soon be joined by the planned over-40 adult-living complex The Chateaux at Kings Heights in the southeast.
The Creekside Village Condos at MacKenzie Pointe has also seen a number of owners in the middle-age demographic, says Jim Bryce, vice-president of sales and marketing with Carlisle Group, which is developing the project.
Bryce said the lock-and-leave condos adjacent to downtown Airdrie are close to being sold out. They have proven popular with singles, young couples, blue-collar types and the downsizing demographic.
“We’re absolutely seeing a significant amount of empty-nesters and downsizers. There’s no question they are moving from the acreages into Airdrie, other projects as well, but certainly ours,” he said.
“They are selling their houses and plunking $250,000 on a condo then spending half the year down in Phoenix or something to that effect.”
Bruce adds the convenience factor is motivating many of his buyers, who are all too happy to trade home maintenance chores for the 35-cent- a-square-foot, close to $300 a month, condo fees.
“That includes your heat and hot water,” he said. “As you can appreciate compared to a home, that’s a huge deal. The only thing you’re paying for over and above your condo fees is your electricity…then your cable and Internet.”
For Routledge, she’s never looked back on her decision.
“Calgary was out of the question,” she said. “I’ve lived in a lot of big cities and usually when it gets around the million mark you get problems you’ve never thought of.
“Airdrie is nice. There are enough amenities that making a trip to Calgary is not something that had to be done all the time.”