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More people are staying put for retirement

Instead of fleeing to the Sun Belt, they're adding pools to their own homes or moving next to local golf courses.

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With their two sons grown and out of the house, Edie and Ron Moeller were feeling a bit footloose after living in the same boxy suburban home here for 20 years.

They considered the usual retirement spots: Sarasota, Fla.; Sun City, Ariz.

But with Mr. Moeller still working, one of their sons living in St. Louis, and a host of friends nearby, they decided to stay put. And instead of downsizing - it being only the two of them now - they purchased a luxury home on a golf course that was 1,000 square feet bigger than their old place and replete with open balconies, two-story windows, and a home office.

The Moellers are in the vanguard of what the construction industry views as the "Next Big Thing" in home building: baby boomers aging in place, eschewing the Sun Belt in favor of their hometowns. And in sharp contradistinction to their parents, who almost universally decided they needed less room when they reached their golden years, boomers are rewarding themselves by upsizing - and often remodeling.

Popular features include amenities like ground-floor bedrooms, wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, and specially designed cabinets that pop open at the push of a button, says Heather McCune, editor in chief of Luxury Home Builder Magazine.

"People buy these great houses, and they don't want to have to renovate them in 10 years," says Mike Moldenhauer of Kohler, which has designed luxury showers with massage and steam functions - as well as built-in seats and no ledges for older customers to navigate. "Everything has to be easier to use. It's no secret that the population is getting older."

Sandy Felkner, a real estate agent in St. Louis, says she knows what's behind the retire-in-style trend. "People aren't old anymore when they get into their 60s. They certainly don't think of themselves that way."

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