Baby Boomers, born in the years following the Second World War, have voiced objections to living the same way as their parents did in retirement.
Often in good health and with active lifestyles, they want accommodation that suits their existing needs and gives easy access to local culture and recreational facilities, but also has the flexibility to meet future care requirements.
Based on our research, we envisage Platinum Places, communities that bring to life their requirements, both in terms of the services they would like to access and the type of accommodation they would like to live in. The overarching desire of the Platinum Generation is to be able to live as independently as possible in safe, well-designed homes that are part of a wider neighbourhood.
The appeal of moving to this type of bespoke development is financial as well as practical. Rightsizing into retirement accommodation often enables households to convert property wealth into usable funds. This release of equity can help to fund retirement or be used to help family members with major financial outlays such as education or home buying.
There can also be significant regular savings from reducing home size. PwC estimates that moving from a three-bedroom, mortgage-free property to a two-bedroom leasehold would save, on average, £1,530 per annum, including utilities, insurance and grounds maintenance. Along with the attraction of no longer being responsible for maintenance, practical benefits can include moving into a property that helps its residents age well.
Single-level living, for example, reduces falls and enhances independence, while on-site facilities encourage an active lifestyle. As well as physical health and independence, mental wellbeing is an important driver. There is evidence that retirement housing with communal spaces, facilities and events helps to reduce isolation and loneliness.
Inevitably, there are barriers to moving into retirement housing. For an existing homeowner with no mortgage, the associated costs of this type of accommodation may seem high as they can include service charges, group repairs and, in some cases, exit fees. State assistance for many of these costs is often not available and, as a result, Demos estimates that 40-50% of older people in some local areas are priced out of the retirement market.
There are also emotional barriers that dissuade people from choosing retirement housing. Attachment to an existing home and the local neighbourhood can be decisive, not to mention the disruption of the move itself. A report by the International Longevity Centre identified the stress of moving home, including packing up and divesting possessions, as one of the strongest reasons not to downsize. New developments can address these concerns by offering a product that is financially accessible, easy to move into and seen as an aspirational alternative to remaining in the family home.