As the UK’s population continues to age, let’s look at senior living trends in the UK and explore why integrated retirement villages – such as Santhem Residences in Shenfield, Essex – are so popular.

What is the senior living market?

According to research report by Jones Lang Lasalle*, it’s predicted that by the year 2025, 20% of the UK population (around 14.3 million people) will be over the age of 65. And according to a publication by estate agency Savills, 43% of the total value of owner-occupied homes is owned by this key demographic. That’s a whopping £800 billion of housing equity. And the main trend we’re seeing from this is that the majority of this age group (64% according to Savills) is looking to downsize.

When defining the sector of senior or retirement living, there are three components, ranging from the least care to the most care provided. These are:

  • Retirement housing – Previously referred to as ‘sheltered housing,’ retirement housing offers age-restricted housing with minimal care facilities.
  • Integrated retirement communities – Previously known as ‘housing with care’, retirement villages and communities offer highly-serviced housing with communal amenities and access to care when needed.
  • Care homes – Also known as ‘nursing homes’, these offer high levels of care and support around the clock.

Integrated retirement villages and communities are becoming increasingly popular. This is largely because the older generations are realising that, while they want to maintain their independence, freedom, and homeowner status, they simply no longer need such large houses. One of the most tempting alternatives then is to move into a retirement community where care, maintenance, and independence are all taken care of.

These communities – which used to be known as housing with care – provide an exciting new lifestyle, where various levels of tailored care are supported in a thriving, supportive village-style environment.

Why are integrated retirement communities gaining popularity?

Integrated retirement villages and communities have been around for a fair while in the UK. Yet, it’s only in recent years that they have started gaining popularity – both with the public and investors.

So, why are they becoming so popular in the retirement living sector?

Retiring from work doesn’t mean that you’re retiring from an exciting and active life. Your lifestyle, interests, and social life doesn’t suddenly change the minute you reach the official retirement age. But your consideration for the future might.

Integrated retirement communities – the term coined by the body representing the sector ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators) – are the popular new kid on the block when it comes to the senior living market. This niche living community is the sweet spot between retirement housing (which is age-restricted but with limited care) and care homes.

Some of the many advantages of retirement villages include:

  • Independence – enjoy the comfort, security, and privacy of living in your own home.
  • Access to care if needed – extra care, help, and support are on hand if needed.
  • Lifestyle – get involved with the community as much or as little as you want.
  • Finances – if you buy your retirement property, you can hold onto your asset.
  • Facilities – a wide range of services and leisure facilities are available within the village.
  • Maintenance – the upkeep of the retirement village and its facilities are taken care of by the integrated retirement community.
  • Peace of mind – studies show that living in these communities can halve the likelihood of having to live in institutional care in the future.

Over recent years, the demand for these communities has increased, and retirement villages with stylish homes, communal spaces, care facilities, and wellbeing facilities have seen a boom. What’s more, over the past decade, around 4,000 integrated retirement communities have been delivered.

Let’s dig a little deeper to discover why this particular retirement trend is increasing.

Senior living trends from the States have reached the UK

While the UK is starting to see an increase in integrated retirement communities, we’re still a way behind compared to the USA and Australia. It’s thought that they are about 20 years ahead of the UK in developing the trend for these retirement villages.

While we still have a way to go to catch up to our neighbours across the pond, superior communities are slowly but steadily catching up, and there is still scope for considerably more growth.

As the UK’s population continues to age, it’s projected that the number of over-65’s will be over 15 million by 2030 – that’s 2.4 million more than today. This means that the demand for high-quality integrated retirement villages and communities will only grow higher.

Does financial position and location play a role?

Recent studies have shown that buyers of senior living homes are willing to not only pay more for their new retirement property but also move further away. This could be because there aren’t suitable communities close to their current home, while the desire to relocate to a retirement village is greater than the desire to stay local.

Trends also show that the vast majority of those looking to move into integrated retirement communities are more inclined to move into a smaller home than they previously had. As many homes within retirement villages are one or two-bedroom properties – such as those at Santhem Residences – this makes perfect sense.

So, what about equity?

Housing wealth is concentrated in the hands of the over 65’s. This is likely due to previous generations in the UK being able to get a foot on the housing ladder at a much younger age when housing prices were significantly lower. This has given them the benefit of strong house price growth over the years, and as a result, 42% of total homeowner equity is held by this age demographic.

And as a home that once held an entire family steadily becomes less occupied, many homeowners find they no longer need so much space. As integrated retirement villages and communities continue to develop and offer a more desirable and superior product, they provide a great solution to this issue.

Is a retirement village right for you?

Whether you are completely self-sufficient or in need of support, retirement villages offer not just independence and flexibility, but also a chance to live in a community with beautiful homes and a wealth of exciting facilities to support your wellbeing and lifestyle.

With self-contained retirement properties available to rent or buy set in a maintained village-style neighbourhood, there has never been a better time to start thinking about if integrated retirement living is right for you.

To find out more, give us a call and we’d love to answer any questions you might have. Santhem Residences is our own luxury retirement village in Essex, where you’ll receive a warm welcome from your very first day. Get in touch and discover what our senior living village has to offer.

*Source: UK Retirement Living Rental – Where is the Opportunity, 2022.