For some, it’s a terrible truth: some people just don’t want to live near children. Some of these are childfree people who don’t have and don’t want children. Others include retired people who have done their share of child-raising and now want to relax in the quiet of an area where there aren’t a lot of children causing noise and mischief. Despite the rising demand for housing geared towards people who do not focus on children as a big part of their daily life, there is still a lot of tension in the air when the proposal comes for adults-only housing.
The population of seniors is rising, along with the demand for retirement communities. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2004 Fertility of American Women report found that 44.6 percent of the women involved in the census did not have children. Many were not expected to go on to have any – by choice. Because of the demand for housing from these two groups, realtors are targeting the childless demographic with smaller homes and more adult-only communities that are priced for retirees and working adults. The response has been significantly negative from pro-family groups and families themselves, who see the rising childfree population and demand for housing that is geared towards childless people as a threat to affordable housing for people with children.
Those who are anti-adult housing cite the federal anti-discrimination laws that make it illegal for developers and landowners to discriminate based on age. They ask, “where do the families go?” They warn about criminal elements creeping into a community with less children. They lament that developers won’t build affordable housing for people with children. They mention concerns about the creation and maintenance of safe places for children to play.
Many people desiring adult communities respond with horror stories of uncontrolled children vandalizing property, being noisy at all hours, tormenting pets and people and parents who shrug it all off as “kids will be kids”. They also cite unsightly toys and activity equipment strewn about lawns as a property devaluer. There is also the issue of older children being a threat in gangs. Their greatest anger is reserved for the parents who they see as refusing to teach their children the basic niceties of life and respect for others. They claim that a lot of crime is committed by people who are legally children, not adults and that these children later become the adults who commit more serious crimes as a result of poor parenting and the failure to instill good values.
One definite result of allowing more adult communities is that it will often lessen the conflict between parents and the childfree. The old adage, “good fences make good neighbors” is still true today. A community that does not accept children as tenants will provide a haven for those people who don’t take it in good part when little Johnny tramps through their garden with his three friends and his dog. Parents will be happy to find more housing to their liking where there are other parents. They certainly don’t want to be surrounded by people who can’t fathom why one would voluntarily change diapers and listen to the yells of children at play or have put that part of their life behind them and don’t want to experience it again anytime soon.
People not actively caring for children often have a positive effect on housing values. The childfree tend to have more money free to spend on houses and housing and may be able to afford houses that are less family friendly and more expensive than houses geared towards the childed. Houses near a well-run adult community with quality buildings will be likely to benefit from this part of town where value is high and crime is low. Childfree people also have more time to devote to community service, charities and cultural events, making them instrumental in many communities. Childfree people tend to be better educated and have better jobs than the national average, which enables many to take on positions where their knowledge and income can benefit their society. They are not tied down by family responsibilities and can immerse themselves in activities that parents may only be able to dabble in while their children are young.
Not everybody is cut out for having children. Not everybody wants to live in an area where there are children. However, this does not mean that parents and children will not benefit from supporting an adults-only community in their area. If nothing else, they should consider the tax dollars that they won’t be using for children of their own.