Jimmy Buffett is here . . . and retirement living is about to change.

By Sarah Thomas and Jacquelyn Kung 

Jimmy Buffett is here . . . and retirement living is about to change.

We realized the tipping point had hit when our significant others declared their interest in Jimmy Buffett’s retirement community. Of course, neither of our men had been interested in any other community that we’ve raised up before.

So why the draw? Why now this, “Honey, do you think we should put down a deposit for a place if they’ll let us?” What is happening?

We think it comes down to three things — and we can all learn from it.

But first, for the minority who have not heard: Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville empire has partnered with a developer to open its first community in Florida in late 2018. With 7,000 active adult “Margaritaville” homes starting in the low $200s, their announcement brought in a reported 10,000 signups in the first two weeks. This should be no surprise: Jimmy Buffett already has a booming hospitality business, owning and running over 60 restaurants and resorts that attract over 15 million visitors a year.

If these Margaritaville numbers grow as expected, Jimmy Buffett’s retirement community is already waaaaay over subscribed in pre-sales. 

Why? And what can we learn from it?

They Make You Feel Cool

Jimmy Buffett distinctively says that his community is for those age 55 AND BETTER. Don’t you already want in? You’re better, if you can make it in with your age.

When was the last time our brochures made someone feel cool? The usual industry vernacular of compassion, quality care, and, even, independence seems to be old and musty compared with this hip, honest new place. Do we want to transform? If so, how?

The Place Will Be Fun

Given their hospitality experience and the vibe from their materials, their Happy Hour gathering won’t just be a BBQ, poolside party. It will exude good music and fun people.

After all, these are the same people behind the popular 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar and Grill as well as Margaritaville restaurants.

One of our significant others who will remain nameless has said he wants to go to these Margaritaville socials. And this coming from an introvert . . . !?

What can we do to be fun? Out with the bingo and ballroom dancing and in with the events that SOUND fun. 

Here’s an idea: one of the communities we work with is known for their “Nightclub” events, complete with big bouncer, red rope, and bottle service. More than 40 octogenarian residents show up on each of these nightclub nights. It’s no wonder this community is also oversubscribed.

It’s All Within Reach

For all the coolness and fun, Jimmy Buffett has made this concept well within reach — financially and socially. 

You can buy in for the price of an average American home, and you are instantly welcomed into the community. Sure, there will be annoying people and probably the usual new community startup issues.

But you’ll also have thousands of fun, new friends. Aging together will be an adventure in this inspiring new community experience. Your kids and grandkids may even be excited to visit. Over time, you can see the scale helping to bring in personalized support and possibly medical services, probably at scaled costs. 

What do you think? What other reasons have we missed? Please leave your comments below.

Sarah Thomas is an Aging & Innovation Executive with Genesis/Aging2.0. She is a clinical occupational therapist by background, has run/started several facilities and innovation sites globally, and now serves on the board of a variety of companies. She is based in San Francisco, California. Dr. Jacquelyn Kung is an advisor to investors and providers in U.S. seniors housing and care. She cofounded the largest technology network of long-term care providers in the U.S. and lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter.