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What does an ageing population mean for the UK Housing Market?

Various types of new housing units for the senior citizens are emerging in the UK housing market as the population of the country gets older. These abodes are also providing a comfortable lifestyle for the inhabitants. There is a projection that the number of citizens who are above the age of 65 years will triple in the next 25 years while the population of individuals who are above the age of 85 will grow at a double rate to 3.2 million persons.

Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy have not been improving at the same pace. We have witnessed an increase in the occurrence of life-threatening ailments like heart disease and diabetes, and more people are still living longer despite their health challenges. In the last twenty years, the time expended on care daily in the latter part of one’s life has increased from 1.1 years to 2.4 years for men and also a higher increase from 1.6 years to 3 years for women according to the statistics released by Newcastle University.

The senior citizens have always been kept in care homes, but these new homes are seen as an alternative for individuals who are in need of round the clock end-of-life care. According to JLL, older persons will no longer spend more extended time at the care homes, and it predicted that the home cares would experience a deficit of about 3,000 care home beds in 2018 because of the aging demographic and high spate of bed closures.

According to the Local Government Association, the United Kingdom should be willing to provide sufficient homes for the aged persons. It also envisages an increase in the number of specialist homes to 400,000 within the next 20 years should be done for demand to be met.

Philip Schmid, a director at Healthcare Investment, Alternatives at JLL stated that the only issue encountered by the senior citizen is the absence of a suitable housing unit that provides them with the necessary support they require as they grow older.


The expansion of the retirement living sector in the United Kingdom has provided the older person the opportunity to make a choice from various options through a model that merges self-contained units with mutual amenities and on-site medical care. Presently, less than one percent of the persons under the age of 65 in the United Kingdom occupy these housing units that offer in-house care likened to five percent of the same population in Australia and New Zealand.

Another director at Alternatives, JLL confirmed that retirement living properties is a fantastic alternative as occupants can go home and do not have their movement restricted. These people also have access to quality support and medical facilities that promote their freedom and offer them a sense of belonging. He also suggested these housing units can be used as a remedy to resolve the UK’s housing deficit. He observed that movement of the senior citizens to a retirement living property would offer more space in a big family home.

The UK retirement living market has the potential to make close to 2.6 million sales in the housing market if it has to be compared with other stable markets in the United States or Australia as three senior citizens leave home for the retirement homes. James Kingdom, associate director at JLL said more than half of the homes occupied by the owners are under-occupied in comparison with 14 percent for the private rented sector.


Presently, there is a low supply of retirement living housing units for persons in the mid to upper wealth categories. It was observed that some current developers had seen the potentials in these markets. According to the report from JLL, about 75% of the current market is offered at a cheap rate.

Most of the retirement living housing units were constructed in the 1970s and created as an ex-local authority or social housing unit. These units are no longer serving its purpose as it does not have sufficient facilities and does not encourage a complete social interaction. An excellent example of an emerging housing development is the Audley Retirement which can be likened to a 5-star hotel.
According to James Kingdom, the mid-market has a lot of potentials as he cited examples of the United States and Australia markets that are providing various service offerings for individuals of diverse needs with different degrees of wealth. It may not be a direct advantage to the aging population but an exceptional solution to the problem of the housing shortage.


More investors are studying the market. The booming retirement living market is considered to be lucrative than the conventional care home sector if factors such as complicated funding process for care home residents and lower regulatory threats are discussed.
Oldfield stated that retirement housing could be utilized to use their current housing equity to scale down. It could also be used to free up capital, assume control of the housing units and provide care needs as these persons grow older. It also helps that investment case for retirement living properties is more transparent to the end user and the investor.
Schmid further suggested an upward trend in the interest in the retirement living market in the last one year, especially from investors with substantial funds. He said various models are being examined ranging from homes offering support to providing a broad range of excellent hospitality services and care.

Development of these retirement living homes has been viewed as a unique model that has enjoyed more success with the provision of care as a side attraction. More individuals are embracing the opportunities in the retirement living, and it is fast becoming an ambitious product for the UK housing market.

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