What Can We Learn From Retirement Living Around The World?

What Can We Learn From Retirement Living Around The World?

Posted by Rachel Bashford

What Can We Learn From Retirement Living Around The World?

Fewer UK residents live in retirement communities than in other international countries.

We discover what has held them back and why that seems to be changing.

What can the UK learn from retirement living developments around the world?

This article will give you the latest on:

  • The retirement living market in the UK and why we have been a little hesitant about buying into it
  • Why countries like the USA, New Zealand and Australia are making the most of retirement living
  • Exciting changes in the UK retirement living sector.

What Is The State Of The UK Retirement Living Market?

In Britain, some have a cautious attitude to retirement living communities. There are a range of reasons for this – cultural, historical and financial.

Historically, older people lived within the same streets they grew up in and often moved in with family. Over the last half a century, the fabric of society has changed and people now may not live near close relatives. Covid has definitely exposed the reality of this.

Valuing the importance of our later years and how we spend time is a key focus of this Joseph Rowntree Foundation report. Here, the emphasis is on how retirement communities give older people the freedom and independence they are used to, while supporting through social and health networks:

“Some older people decide to move to a retirement community as a way of improving their social life, though for many it is the support, care and accessible environment that such schemes generally offer which is the primary driver. Some of the older people

Since seniors may not automatically live with their children these days, other types of housing have started to become more desirable. Secure and assisted housing are taking a larger percentage share of senior homes as older people seek safety and protection, combined with the sociable side of retirement communities.

How do you measure loneliness? This was a major question asked of older people by Channel 4. Seniors share their struggles with living by themselves and their wishes for everyday company in the video. Many see retirement villages and communities as real and effective solutions to loneliness with activities and peers of a similar age living side by side.

According to Homes for Later Living, there are around 3 million over-65s in the UK who want to downsize. In truth, this means finding a new home that is manageable with plenty of social and health benefits to enjoy in retirement.

Homes for Later Living published a 2020 report that surveyed seniors about why they might feel reluctant to move. The results are revealing as they show a practical side to hesitancy about retirement living.

Barriers to over 65s moving house:

Real-life issues are at the forefront of older people’s worries about moving. Physical activities such as packing, getting rid of larger pieces of furniture and financial worries appear to be the major barriers to a move for seniors.
Research by The Financial Times explores how older people feel and what they really need in their later years. According to the expert academics:

“In truth, the main reason most people don’t move into smaller properties in later life is that there is a chronic shortage of suitable and desirable alternatives — and a lack of support to make a move.”

- Dr Rachel Docking of the Centre for Ageing Better (CfAB).

As UK retirement communities and villages grow in size and location, older people are turning to what they have to offer. These communities are supplying popular alternatives that provide age-proof homes to those that want both independence and some support if required.

Often, people cite the cultural norm of home ownership as a barrier to leaving a family home. Sentimental ties are huge, particularly when you have memories woven into the property, as 21% of the people surveyed for the Homes for Later Life report confirm. Retirement communities can balance this with as much or as little activity, social life and medical care as an older person wants.

Plenty of over-65s say that making the change while they are still young enough to enjoy all the positive aspects of retirement is a huge benefit.

Why Are Retirement Communities Globally Popular?

Less than 1% of British over-65s live in retirement villages, compared to over 6% in the USA and 5% in Australia. So, why is there a difference in these figures?

Retirement Communities In Australia

According to Mccrindle.com, an Australian-based social analysis company, there are practical and social reasons as to why these retirement options are popular in Australia. Mccrindle surveys retirement community residents in Australia every year to find out why they moved and how they felt about this change.

In fact, the results demonstrate how confident older people are in this type of move:

The three top reasons new residents chose to leave their previous home (the Push Factors) were to downsize while they still could (84%), their home was becoming too big to manage (62%) and concern about their future health (60%).

The three top reasons they liked their new village home (the Pull Factors) were that they could stay independent (87%), they had a safe environment with emergency support (87%) and were able to access village facilities (87%).

- Source: Mccrindle.com/au

Another huge factor seems to be the availability of this type of community within every town or region. This drives forward acceptance and approval of the villages as people see them as part and parcel of everyday life. Perhaps, as the rate of retirement villages appearing in UK towns and regions continues, more UK seniors will choose this life as an attractive option.

Mccrindle’s report states that there is an increased level of happiness and wellbeing with retirement village residents in Australia - with better health, increased confidence and physical security all contributing to contentment.

In this video, the Retirement Living Council of Australia looked into how seniors feel the lives have changed for the better in retirement communities.

What Is Retirement Living Like In New Zealand?

A similar situation has developed in New Zealand, according to the NZ Herald, with over 47,000 retirement community residents already living in these environments and with further expansion planned.

It’s fair to say that there is increasing demand, just like in the UK, with a growing older population. The New Zealand government commissioned a report that confirms there are around 11,000 new village units in development now and an estimated 26,000 new village units are anticipated by 2033 to house more seniors. 

Stats NZ, New Zealand’s official data agency, says that the over-65 population will grow by over half a million to reach 833,000 people by 2048. The agency found that:

"This change in the structure of the population will continue to drive increasing demand for retirement villages.”

Recent studies have shown that around 96% of retirement village residents in New Zealand are “very or extremely satisfied” with their lifestyle and the services they enjoy in their retirement community. These respondents highlighted easy access to health and leisure amenities as a major factor in their happiness.

Latest Developments In USA Retirement Living

America’s retirement landscape has boomed for many decades. Around 6.1% of people over the age of 65 live in US retirement communities, according to ARCO. This figure is set to double by 2030, with the construction of these communities growing steadily over the last decade.

The latest research in America suggests that, even though retirement communities have been established there for a long time, they are becoming ever more popular.

One of the most recent studies from Investmentu.com found that the traditional retirement experience is becoming less enticing for many Americans. Instead of remaining in their home, seniors are looking for resort-style amenities and easy access to medical care.

These retirement villages are relaxing, secure and safe. They provide resources that you cannot find anywhere else as a retiree

The Washington Post published an article in June 2021 highlighting continuing developments in the retirement landscape. Luxury defines the state-of-the-art constructions entering the market. Wellness and hospitality are said to be at the heart of the boutique-style offerings opening to seniors with ‘curated neighbourhoods’ that offer ‘cultural enrichment’ to those that can afford it.

For other American seniors, the retirement options for living are still increasing – with a focus on health after the Covid crisis. American research company, Grand View Research have reported that the assisted living market will grow at around 5% over the next 5 years.

In fact, this report names some major factors driving sector growth, including an increasing consumer desire to live with home-based services and at a lower cost than American nursing homes.

What Changes Are Ahead For The UK Retirement Sector?

Experts in future retirement planning all seem to have one thing in common: a positive and optimistic attitude about the next stage of retirement living.

An ARCO article shows that the intelligent use of technology to streamline daily living for older people within retirement communities is now vital. Paired with enhanced access to health and wellbeing resources, these focal points define future planning in this sector.

This will mean that what consumers want and expect from their living environments will be the foundation for communities about to be built.

Emerging in the market are some leading trends:

Boutique Independent Living

Many retirement living providers are beginning to branch out and create living spaces for seniors in city centre and metropolitan areas.


Retirement living companies, such as McCarthy Stone, Cinnamon Care Collection and Churchill are developing more homes within central locations. Residents can enjoy the security of health care if they wish, while experiencing the latest in culture and wellness.

High Street Living

Post pandemic, it has become clear to everyone that our high streets are suffering from lack of footfall and vacant units. Some pioneering care providers, such as Abbeyfield Southern Oaks, are using these opportunities to create homes for older people that are located within high streets for ease of access and to enjoy amenities and leisure facilities within a few steps.

Mixed Age Developments

There are an increasing number of inter-generational housing options becoming available. This means that people can live together from different age groups to create an exciting and thriving community. One such example is CitzenG, who offer support when it is needed and a cultural and leisure environment to keep life interesting.

And don't forget, you can find out more about the benefits of Retirement Living in this Autumna YouTube Live presentation.

How to Find Retirement Villages or Communities That Suit Your Budget & Needs

Searching for retirement living locations that meet your criteria?

Let us help you. When you send Autumna a quick email explaining what you’re looking for we’ll give you a customised list of retirement properties. Here’s our email address to get in touch:

EMAIL: info@autumna.co.uk

Another option is to call our Advice Line on 01892 335 330. We’re here to chat from Monday to Sunday (8:30am - 5:30pm Mon-Fri, 10am - 5pm Sat, 10am - 4pm Sun).

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