Could retirement villages be the answer to the housing shortage?

Blog posted

7th July 2015

Earlier this month on BBC Two, Newsnight aired an episode that focused on an issue that certainly caught my eye; the beeb’s Evan Davis looked into how to solve Britain’s housing shortage in one easy stroke.

So, what is the solution? Titled: ‘Can old people solve the housing crisis?’ the programme suggested the simple answer is to help the older generation vacate their oversized homes and move somewhere smaller and more appropriate. Perhaps somewhere like a retirement village…In doing so, they would free up homes for families who need the space.

What do the figures say?

BBC Newsnight aired the episode off the back of a study by Legal & General and the Centre for Economic and Business Research, which made a staggering claim – the potential ‘last time buyers’ (a phrase we hear so often) are holding onto 7.5million spare bedrooms.

However, Legal & General’s research also showed that although almost a third of older homeowners have considered downsizing in the last five years, fewer than one in ten (7%) actually did move.

Whereas during Newsnight, economic correspondent Duncan Weldon, visited Florida to see what retirement village life is like, seeing as in the US 17% of over 65’s live in purpose built retirement homes! That’s a whopping amount.

Why is the older generation less likely to move?

This got my brain ticking about why our older generation are less likely to move. Perhaps they aren’t aware of the fantastic quality of life, facilities, support and friendships on offer at a retirement village. Or perhaps there’s a misconception that retirement villages are filled with ancient senile people, where they’ll no longer have their independence.

 Well, our model at Retirement Villages couldn’t be further from that. We have 14 villages across 11 counties and although each one is very distinctive from the next, they all offer an active, supported lifestyle with extensive facilities and events taking place across the seasons. As well as having the reassurance of varying levels of care support to suit your needs – now or in the future.

This differentiates us from other retirement operators, which offer either sheltered accommodation with no facilities or support, or are nursing based offering services only to the frail – perhaps the exact concept which the high proportion of over 65’s are put off by.

We all know that often there’s a political debate around the lack of housing and BBC Newsnight referred to the older generation as the ‘so–called last time buyers but with nowhere to buy’. Evan Davies explained that Britain is lacking retirement villages. I also read a report by the Royal Institute of British Architects, which looked at space in the property world (or perhaps a lack of), saying that there are fewer homes being built than the new households that are being formed each year.

We  take care of the day-to-day chores so you can enjoy your days

Perhaps older homeowners allow inertia to keep them in their current home, which has become oversized and expensive to maintain. The L&G study said that common reasons for homeowners to consider downsizing are that a current property has become unsuitable because of stairs or a large garden (45%) and the property becoming too large for their needs (33%). 

 At Retirement Villages, the lifestyle allows you to do what you choose to do, not what you have to do. We take care of the day-to-day chores so you get on and simply enjoy your days, in the peace and tranquillity of your own private retirement home, or within the wider village setting at a village social event or outing.

You only have to read our testimonial page to see just how much our residents believe it’s the best move they ever made – they still get to keep their independence but know they are looked after at Retirement Villages. Cyntha Richards at our Lime Tree Village likes village life so much she said “If I won the pools I wouldn’t want to move.”

Why wait until you’re retired to move to a retirement village?

Another thing, which also caught my eye when I read the L&G report and watched Newsnight, is that more than half believe that it will be best to wait until they are over 70 before moving, and a quarter will wait until 80. 

The most common reason for considering downsizing by over 55s is that their property is no longer necessary. Many of the over 55s – and 63% of those with at least two spare bedrooms – do intend to move, but all too often, they leave it late.

At Retirement Villages we have so many wonderful activities on offer, from croquet to gym classes. You really don’t have to be old to move here, so why wait until you retire?

Stanley and Joan Sutherland from Moat Park, completely agrees and said, “If people are contemplating downsizing to this type of lifestyle they shouldn’t keep putting it off. They need to do the research and make a decision. It needs doing when you can, not when you have to, in our opinion.”

Mike and Pauline Pettet from our Blagdon Village in Somerset said they are always quick to recommend life in a retirement village, advising “the only advice we give is not to leave it too late. There’s so much to enjoy it would be a shame to miss out. You can’t beat it. We’ve got the lot”. 

So what are you waiting for?

We hold regular open days across our villages, with events such as ‘Pimms and Strings’ as well as cheese and wine afternoons. Feel free to bring your friends and family and discover what Retirement Villages could offer you.

Warm regards 

Sarah Burgess
Sales and Marketing Director