Sitalakshmi Gopalan, a retired school teacher in Delhi, invested in a senior living project in Coimbatore. Although her children continue to stay in Delhi, she was clear that she wanted to stay with people her age and live a leisurely life. Similarly, Jitender Singh and his wife, residents of Pune, whose children worked abroad, sold their property and invested in a senior living project in the city. Gopalan and Singh represent a small segment of buyers, who opt for retirement communities, in a country where the multi-generational ‘joint family’ structure still endures, despite modernisation.
Accounting for less than 1% of the $25-billion senior housing industry worldwide, the concept of senior citizen housing, still carries a social stigma in the country. According to a JLL analysis of 135 urban cities and towns in India, with a total population of 223 million and a total of 52 million households, households with seniors stood at 12.8 million (24.6%). Of these, the demand for formal senior living facilities, is estimated to be around 3,00,000 dwelling units.
However, there is a large gap between potential customers and customers who are aware of their requirements, points out Ashwin Kumar Iyer, CEO, Vedaanta Senior Living LLP. “Being a relatively new industry, the concept also needs to go through a steep awareness curve. Typically, the price for high-income senior units is around Rs 50-75 lakhs and above, while it is Rs 25-50 lakhs for mid-income and Rs 10-25 lakhs for low-income,” adds Iyer.
See also: Should you invest in a retirement home?
Hotspots for retirement home projects
Although there is a nationwide requirement for senior housing, south India seems to be the largest market.
“We found that Tamil Nadu had the largest percentage of senior customers with high per capita income, making it a very interesting state for projects on senior living,” says Ankur Gupta, joint managing director, Ashiana Housing Ltd.
Consumers in this segment, prefer properties that have open spaces, pollution-free environment and are close to their friends and family. People like to retire in places, where they spent a lot of time, or their children are settled. Therefore, projects along the outskirts of cities and towns, have witnessed good demand.
Amenities that a senior living complex should have
The amenities of a senior living complex, are different from other target age groups. The projects should be self-sustaining, so that the residents do not have to venture out to look for basic services. “Home seekers should consider the cost of the dwelling unit, monthly maintenance charges, presence of healthcare facilities and other amenities for senior citizens at the community site. This includes quality food, clean water and space for exercise and leisure,” says Dr PM Chandrashekara, resident medical officer and board member, Sushruta Vishranthi Dhama Ltd: Suvidha Retirement Village.
The project should also have easy access to transport facilities, railway stations and the airport, if possible. The retirement community should, ideally, be located in a serene location, with good ventilation and sunlight and also be connected to the city’s main areas.
Property prices in senior citizen projects
So, would the addition of senior-friendly amenities, add to the total cost of the project?
“Yes, the cost will be 10%-15% higher than a regular project,” says Iyer. Gupta explains that the planning of facilities and designing a senior living complex, can add almost Rs 100 per sq ft to the construction cost. “There are two categories of investors, in the retirement home segment. The first category, invests with a view to sell the dwelling at an appropriate time and make a profit. The second are genuine retirees, who want to live in a community project that is designed for people of their age,” says Chandrashekara.
Costs and benefits to consider, in senior living projects
- The price for high-income senior living units is around Rs 50-75 lakhs and above, while it is Rs 25-50 lakhs for mid-income and Rs 10-25 lakhs for low-income.
- Factors that one should look for in a retirement home, include its location, accessibility from the airport and railway station, proximity and availability of medical services and hospitals and connectivity to the city.