Britain’s population of over-65s is expected to grow four times faster than the general population over the next five years, resulting in greater demand for retirement housing. Most people looking to downsize in their retirement say they would prefer to remain in their existing neighbourhood, but possibilities vary, with many of the large existing retirement villages being in very rural locations.
Owner-occupied retirement housing represents just 2 per cent of Britain’s total housing stock, according to Michael Ball, Professor of Urban and Property Economics at Henley Business School. This pales in comparison with the US (17 per cent, according to a 2011 study) or Australia and New Zealand (13 per cent). Despite this, only about 1 per cent of total private sector housing construction today is for the elderly.
The lack of suitable homes is not for lack of demand. Census data from 2011 shows that three quarters of Britons aged 65 or over, roughly 6.5 million, are owner-occupiers, 72 percent of whom have at least three bedrooms. Many of these will have more space than they can use. With housing in tight supply, new retirement villages being built release valuable family homes into the market.
More investor capital is now entering the retirement sector, allowing specialist developers to build bespoke housing in varied locations. As these are completed, people should find possibilities suited to their needs.