Posted by Rachel Bashford

Where Are The UK’s Retirement Living Hotspots?

The retirement living sector is developing at pace and changing the UK landscape.

Over the last decade, there has been an exponential increase in the number of over-65s looking to find a home in retirement living properties, retirement villages or communities.

Elderly couple on the look out for retirement living hotspots

This article will give you updates on:

  • The reasons behind the boom in retirement living.
  • The hotspots in UK retirement living.
  • Future retirement living trends throughout the UK.

Why Is Retirement Living Currently Enjoying A Boom?

Over the last decade, there has been an exponential increase in the number of over-65s looking to find a home in retirement living properties, retirement villages or communities. Recent industry surveys suggest that there are around 75,000 people in the UK are living in Integrated Retirement Communities (IRC) or ‘housing with care’ to use a slightly out-dated term.

However, with a population rise in this age bracket on the horizon, there is concern in the retirement sector that there won’t be enough space to accommodate everyone’s needs. Savills reports that there is going to be an approximate rise in the over-65 section of society from 13.6 million presently to 15 million by 2030.

Of course, this will have an impact on housing stock that is suitable for older people to choose from. And it won’t be a surprise that retirement living companies have taken note of these statistics and are beginning to build new sites or refurbish existing stock to broaden the choice for seniors.

In fact, Built Environment Networking states that one of the fastest growing UK sectors is retirement living, proposing an estimation of £55bn in worth by 2023. Most industry insiders acknowledge the impact of the pandemic on senior choices for retirement living; the loneliness that the last few years has created or the need to find a lifestyle that fits individual choice.

Looking closely at location is key to predicting what trends are emerging in the market, with construction moving from more rural locations to metropolitan environments. This is displayed in the graphic by Savills below which details the more urban locations of large senior living schemes completed between 2016-2020.

To house the expanding population of over-65s, property and construction companies are planning to intensify retirement home building over the next few years. Knight Frank has predicted a growth rate of around 9% by 2025. Even with this in place, there is a fear that there will be a shortfall with more over-65s looking for a suitable home than those being constructed.

Graph showing the move of retirement living housing to more urban locations.

This graphic from ARCO visualises the types of retirement living available and begins to paint a picture as to why seniors are deciding to move in more numbers as flexibility of choice becomes more prominent.

Graph showing ARCO retirement living categories

There are plenty of tools available to help seniors search for the right retirement living option to suit their needs. This Autumna video gives more detail and information about the process.

Many in the industry are noticing changes in the location and type of retirement living being made available to the over-65s. There are trends developing that may change the way we view retirement living and what these communities have to offer.

Where Are The Hotspots In UK Retirement Living?

In a 2021 Guardian article, it was reported that the Retirement Villages Group had made the commitment to spend £2bn on developing over 40 locations in urban environments over the next 10 years, mostly in city centres.

The proposed sites include a £110m retirement community in Surrey and a new £65m village of 147 retirement homes  in Chester, 10 minutes from the town centre. As the company stated, there is a growing desire from over-65 people to downsize family homes and to live in city or town centres to make the most of leisure, culture and entertainment facilities.

Traditionally, it was presumed that older people would automatically prefer rural locations to enjoy their retirement. This idea influenced the construction of many of the more rural retirement living facilities that have opened in the UK over the last 50 years. However, with people’s requirements shifting, so is the retirement living sector.

McCarthy Stone have conducted a recent survey that uncovers the most desirable places for seniors to live. Surprisingly, the top five locations are all towns or cities, with York, Torquay, Newquay, Bath and London taking up the top five. Coastal towns are still very popular in this age group; however, the rest of the top ten is dominated by cities offering a range of attractions, such as Edinburgh and Cambridge.

To reflect these attitude shifts, McCarthy Stone, alongside other retirement living companies, are proposing new sites across Britain to cater for the increase in the senior population and the wish to have a flexible retirement.

Highlighted in the 2021 Great British Retirement Index survey are key locations in the UK that are attracting retirees and potential retirees. In this top ten, Sheffield and Stockport feature as hotspots for seniors looking to move during or pre-retirement.

The survey analysed a range of desirable elements including the availability of amenities such as parks, cafes per 100,000 people and access to clubs or fitness facilities. Recognising the need to pivot with current opinion is Adlington Retirement Living, who have a range of retirement options in Sheffield and Stockport.

Illustrating the vision behind the development of their portfolio, Dr Ed Gladman, Managing Director of Adlington Retirement said, “We look for locations that offer our homeowners the benefits of being close to a major city but with beautiful surroundings and a sense of peace and quiet.”

Specifically focusing on reasons why people are choosing these cities to spend their retirement, Dr Gladman continues,  “We also opened a new retirement community in Sheffield last year. Again, there is an air of tranquillity, but the bustling city centre is only a short drive away and the local shops and amenities are within a few moments’ walk.”

Exploring the proposals of retirement living companies, Carterwood has analysed the older people’s housing sector in its Market Movers 2022 report. While commenting on various aspects of retirement living and the options available for seniors, the report pinpoints areas where they have found developers are planning to create more suitable housing options for the over-65s.

In this image, Carterwood reveal the locations they believe will be developed further.

Graph showing where Carterwood believes the growth in retirement living developments will be most prominent

Here, the graphic is showing that the South East is ahead of the other regions with around 25% of new planned retirement living units. In second place is the East of England, popular due to coastal towns.

It is interesting to note that, when compared to 2020-21 data, the regions really showing an increase are the East and West Midlands, London, the North East and the North West. With these figures, it’s clear that there is quite an influential move into urban areas, towns and cities around the country, confirming the general trend everyone in the industry is talking about.

Another key development making its mark is that of Integrated Retirement Communities, ARCO’s new name for housing-with-care. These communities offer high-quality housing combined with customised support services. Housing options such as these are really seeing a dramatic increase in take-up and inquiries about future occupancy.

This short video from ARCO explains the detail around integrated retirement communities.

To clarify what integrated retirement communities are, ARCO defines that apartment homes can be bought or rented, with the option of part-purchase available too. Integrated retirement communities should also offer choices, such as:

Lifestyle facilities, including restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas, community halls and gardens.
Wellbeing or personal and domestic care with dedicated staff teams on site around the clock.
Communication with wider communities, family, friends, local social groups and volunteer organisations. 

For an integrated retirement community to be registered with ARCO, it must deliver the following:

ARCO Integrated Retirement Community credentials

Future UK Retirement Living Trends

According to industry experts, the arc towards more retirement living in towns and cities is only going to become stronger and more defined. With high streets up and down the UK suffering during and after the pandemic, it appears that retirement living developers could be the answer to some extent.

Not only will these developments enable seniors to choose the lifestyle that suits them best, but the construction and operation of these communities delivers local jobs and develops local economies so that the benefits are felt by the wider community.

Scott Corfe, Research Director at the Social Market Foundation, believes stronger development of retirement living in our large and small towns or cities is vital for the benefit of seniors as well as the country as a whole.

Corfe says, “As we seek to revitalise our town and city centres, new housing for older people could play a key role in supporting economies and jobs for younger people in sectors such as hospitality. Over 65s households spend over £170 billion per annum, including £14 billion of spending on restaurants and hotels and £27 billion of spending on recreation and culture.”

It seems as if the general feeling of positivity surrounding the future of retirement living can only be a good thing for sector advancement that benefits seniors. The most important thing to note is that flexibility and personalisation seem to be more important than ever: for developers and for the over-65s themselves

What Is The Best Way To Research Information About Care And Support In Retirement?

Growing numbers of people are turning to Autumna for support and information when they want to find out more about retirement options. Older people and their families are searching for reliable advice about what to look for and how to secure the best possible future retirement home.

Starting an internet search without really knowing what to look for can be tricky but, as users quickly discover, the simple search tools on Autumna help people to rapidly find what they are looking for.

Let Autumna help you. Complete this short form to let us know exactly what type of care is important to you, and we’ll send you a free shortlist of providers who can help.

Alternatively email us here: or call our Advice Line on 01892 335 330. Our phone line is open seven days a week. (8:30am - 5:30pm Mon-Fri, 10am - 5pm Sat, 10am - 4pm Sun).

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