Across the United States, New Zealand and Australia high-end retirement communities are big business. Here, there is a multitude of complexes and villages designed to attract the asset-rich, more mature buyer, typically looking to downsize to a more manageable apartment. But far from being the old people’s home of the British model, these developments target younger retired people – from the age of 55 – and are luxurious in both finish and amenities. Could the same model work for Britain too?
According to Savills, a quarter of all those buying a property in luxury new-build city properties in the UK are over 60 years old, challenging the notion that retirees are looking for peace and tranquillity in a bungalow by the sea. It is this market that companies across the UK are increasingly tapping into, with a number of high-end projects, with age restrictions on buyers, in development.
The new downsizer’s wishlist still includes important factors such as security and accessibility but this is more likely to mean lift access and vertical living in a chic apartment with all mod cons rather than a compact single-storey house in a cul-de-sac. Security is less about the owners’ personal safety anxieties and more about their aspiration to lock up and leave to travel the world, safe in the knowledge that their property is wind and watertight, and secure. Proximity to bars, restaurants and cultural opportunities in a city are also high on the wishlist.
UK-wide developers have been responding to this market demand, with companies such as Churchill Retirement, Audley and Pegasus, to name but a few, by focussing on chic urban locations that provide retirees with all the needs right on their doorsteps.
Last year saw a major shake-up in the retirement development market with a number of consolidations as well as some new entrants. The UK is yet to see, however, major developers entering from the US, Australia or New Zealand but this might be only a matter of time.