Donna Duffy was living in downtown Wilmington, operating a successful marketing agency, when the pandemic hit.
“[Suddenly] we were in lockdown and the city had become like a ghost town,” she says. “We had already started downsizing the agency…which meant we were able to keep going virtually.”
She and her business partner, Pat Howes, both in their 60s, owned a home together in Millville’s Creekside and decided to relocate.
“Since we could work from anywhere, we both wanted to downsize and live in southern Delaware,” Duffy explains.
Many older adults who own two homes are in the same boat, so downsizing into one can be a great option.
“Delaware is a great place for seniors because we have everything—great restaurants, arts, music, natural parks to explore,” Duffy says, “and if you need to get to the city or to an airport, it’s an easy drive. The pandemic gave seniors even more of a reason to make decisions now and live where they want to live, instead of just planning to move to the beach later.”
She says she loves Bethany because of all the opportunities for her business to continue to grow in a hybrid model. She also coaches female entrepreneurs and continues to host events online.
“Many of the women I work with are 50 and older, and so many of them moved to the beaches full time—so it made sense to bring my business here while also expanding globally online,” Duffy explains. “When you reach a certain age, you know what you want, and there’s no reason to wait. You can retire, run your business from anywhere or even start a new business in your 60s.”
Many other seniors who chose to downsize during the pandemic relocated to Delaware from out of state for its more affordable housing, lower taxes and quality of life.
“Delaware really has an amazing community throughout the state,” Duffy says. “You can be a big fish in a small pond and really create amazing connections with others who are doing the same thing.”
Some older adults are moving here to escape city living and to be closer to family.
Priscilla Kavanaugh and her husband, Justin, were living in a small apartment in Manhattan. When the lockdown forced them to work from home and set up a space for their daughter to attend school virtually, they quickly realized this new normal wasn’t going to work for them.
“We decided to get out of the city and stay with my parents in Delaware. After the month was up, we were packing to go back to the city and we had a sort of ‘aha’ moment,” Priscilla, a Wilmington native, recalls. “We asked ourselves what we were going back to.”
“When you reach a certain age, you know what you want, and there’s no reason to wait. You can retire, run your business from anywhere or even start a new business in your 60s.”
—Donna Duffy, 3E Marketing Solutions & Sage Success Studio
The couple, while not yet 50, are not alone.
“Many of our clients over the past year have a similar story,” says Stacy Horowitz of The Levy Group of Long & Foster. “The pandemic gave many of us time to really think about what was important, and for many, that turned out to be being closer to family, having more access to nature, and having the room for a home office.”
Today, Horowitz and other real estate agents across the state say they are experiencing a huge demand for homes while a limited supply of houses for sale continues.
“I’m seeing a broad range of people in the market to move to Delaware—parents and grandparents [who want] to be closer to family and to take advantage of the lower taxes and housing costs here,” she says. “When it comes to quality of life, you can’t beat Delaware.”