Why ‘retirement living’ is the new fashion for the over-55s

15 March 2021

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More people are opting for a ‘forever home’ at a younger age, says STEVEN SIMPSON

However you look at it, the face of retirement is changing. From luxury independent living developments to intergenerational communities and high-tech facilities, housing for retirees has evolved considerably.

The future is undoubtedly exciting and will benefit older generations, whose best interests have not always been served by the current housing offering.

Worryingly though, a ‘severe undersupply’ of senior housing is anticipated in Scotland according to recent research.

A research paper co-authored by Sovereign Property Partnership, the University of Aberdeen and the Elderly Accommodation Counsel, found that the average percentage of supply of senior housing units versus the population of over 65s in Scotland stood at only 5%.

This is against a background of figures indicating that there will be 240,000 more people of a pensionable age in Scotland over the next 25 years, representing a 23% increase from 2018.

Whilst more independent age-exclusive developments for retirees are being built – such as Cruden Group subsidiary Juniper Residential’s luxury over-55 developments in Kinross and Scone – overall supply remains critically short, and we may consequently see an increasing trend of people moving into their ‘rest of their life’ home sooner.

Already, some 25% of over-55s in the UK would consider downsizing or moving into some sort of retirement, or purpose-built, accommodation

In countries such as Australia and Canada, where 55-plus independent living developments are more established, developers report that the average age that seniors move into their facilities is getting younger. Many are drawn to the appeal of enjoying retirement in a setting with fewer demands in terms of home maintenance and garden care, as well as the lifestyle offering.

It is feasible to envision that Scotland could also see an increase in people aged in their 50s and 60s moving into such facilities, perhaps many being ‘empty nesters’ who are downsizing from the family home and find peace of mind in the idea of moving into a property they will stay in forever.

Already, some 25% of over-55s in the UK would consider downsizing or moving into some sort of retirement, or purpose-built, accommodation, according to research from Knight Frank.

The benefits of moving into such a community early are numerous, particularly with regards to wellness, security and the vibrant social life brought about by hotel-inspired communal spaces which provide unlimited opportunities for activities and clubs.

But key to making younger seniors feel at home will be the flexibility to modify properties progressively, so owners don’t feel they have moved into a home intended for someone decades older.

Residents of Juniper developments can move into a high-quality new home expertly designed to include practical features that provide the perfect balance of style and function. Plus, additional peace of mind is assured in the knowledge that the property can evolve as much or as little as desired over time.

The ability to influence the standard specification and select optional extras to personalise the home from the outset is key, but innovation plays an important role too. All Juniper properties include future proof, smart technology, allowing residents to live independently at home if and when their needs evolve.

It remains to be seen whether the age of people entering retirement living will get younger in Scotland. What is clear is that the need for an urgent increase in the supply of adaptable, enjoyable and innovative housing for seniors is paramount.

Steven Simpson is a director at Juniper Residential