5.7 million over 65s to downsize within 20 years
The UK population is living longer than ever. The Office of National Statistics is predicting that the number of over 60s will rise twice as fast as the working age population over the next ten years. A significant number of those people are interested in downsizing their properties, freeing up much needed family homes and allowing them to live in appropriate, aspirational houses and apartments that suit their changing needs. A 2013 Demos report found that 25% of over 60s would be interested in buying a retirement property - equating to 3.5 million people nationally. So it's clear the demand is there. Unfortunately the supply is still not keeping pace.
Knight Frank has found that only 715,000 properties, or 2.6% of UK housing stock, can be classified as 'retirement housing.' And this will soon cause a real issue. The International Longevity Centre (ILC) said recently that the rate at which specialist retirement properties are currently being built isn't meeting demands for an ageing population, resulting in a predicted 160,000 retirement housing shortage by 2030. (Right - the Cooper's Hill retirement development - developed by Audley Retirement and is based in Englefield Green, Surrey)
The issue needs to be addressed. As well as building more retirement properties, more needs to be done to raise awareness of what is already available. Downsizing does not need to mean a negative change to quality of life. Far from it. The ILC has found that residential housing with flexible care provision can have a major impact in promoting residents' quality of life and reducing feelings of isolation. And as Audley Cooper's Hill demonstrates, the opportunities are there to live in specialist retirement housing in beautiful settings, with exceptional facilitates on site. Those facilities include a swimming pool, health and fitness facilities, a restaurant and a bar.
We need more focus on creating more retirement living options so that everyone has the benefit of choice.