Retirement villages approaching capacity – where will our seniors live?

29 November 

Occupancy of retirement villages in Australia is close to capacity, highlighting the forthcoming shortage of age appropriate housing for senior Australians in their local communities, according to new data.

The results of the annual PwC/Property Council Retirement Census show increasing numbers of older Australians are choosing to live in a retirement village, and taking advantage of hotel-style services, visiting health professionals and cash left over from the sale of their family home.

Through 2016, retirement villages across the nation were almost at their practical capacity of 93 per cent occupancy, and with the 65+ population set to grow by 5 million in the next 40 years, it is clear many seniors won’t be able to access the benefits of retirement village living in the future without significant shifts in policy.

Ben Myers, Executive Director – Retirement Living at the Property Council of Australia, said urgent action was needed at a state government level to encourage the development of new retirement villages in all our major cities.

“Nearly 200,000 senior Australians have made the informed choice to choose retirement village living, and this number is set to grow sharply in the coming decade,” Mr Myers said.

“Research shows retirement villages extend people’s ability to live independently within a secure community and, on average, access more than $200,000 in capital from the sale of their home to use how they wish.

“It is clear however that without significant improvements in state planning policy, many seniors won’t be able to access these benefits in coming years – we are facing an imminent capacity crisis.

“Many existing homes just aren’t suitable for our seniors to ‘age in place’; often they are older, contain trip hazards and very difficult to maintain. There must be more housing options for senior Australians, especially in our biggest cities where demand is at its highest, so people can live independently for longer.

“We are currently conducting research into planning barriers that are stifling the development of new retirement living accommodation and look forward to working with states to urgently solve this bottleneck.

“While entry into retirement villages remains affordable, but a lack of supply will put upward pressure on prices and make access to villages for seniors much harder.”

PwC Real Estate Advisory Partner Tony Massaro says the PwC/Property Council Retirement Census shows retirement village accommodation continues to be an affordable option for the current generation of Australian seniors who, for the most part, own their own homes.

“The national average entry price for a two-bedroom unit is at $424,000. This is almost one third less than the median house price in the same postcode,” Mr Massaro said.

“Beyond affordability, retirement living accommodation is also increasingly connected to health and lifestyle services for senior residents. More than three quarters of villages surveyed host visiting health professionals, while 28 per cent have aged care within 500 metres of the village, up from 26 per cent last year, and 33 per cent of villages are operated by an approved provider for home care.

“Every city needs vibrancy, diversity, connectivity and inclusion to truly thrive, so it’s exciting to see senior living continuing to evolve to support these needs with a myriad of amenities and care options - from dining to healthcare services to organised social outings.

“As our population ages, and more of us work longer, our cities are going to need to work for senior Australians in ways they never have before.”

The Census also showed the wide variety of services and facilities available for residents to enjoy their retirement lifestyle; 91 per cent have community centres, 84 per cent organise regular community outings and social activities, and 68 per cent allow residents to have pets.

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