Blog > How does over 55 housing work?

How does over 55 housing work?

mature couple with house key

By Clare Yates • 24th April 2023 • 4 min read

Is over 55 housing right for you?

If you are in or approaching retirement, moving to over-55 housing can bring many benefits. You’ll be joining a community of a similar age, often with communal facilities, with a range of property types to suit your needs and budget.

In this blog we will be looking at whether over-55s housing might work for you:

  • What is over 55 housing?
  • Pros and cons of over 55 housing
  • Over 55 housing for sale
  • Over 55 housing to rent

We’ll finish with a look at whether it’s possible to take equity release on an over 55 property to help boost your finances in later life.

What is over 55 housing?

Over 55 housing, also known as retirement housing or sheltered housing, are properties for residents aged 55+ who wish to live independently, often with access to 24-hour support. 

They are ideal if the idea of living in a community with people of a similar age appeals to you. Retirement flats and apartments offer smaller living spaces which are easier to maintain, whilst larger retirement bungalows are available for those wanting more room.

Common features of over 55 housing may include:

  • Communal facilities and social areas such as gardens and lounges
  • Support from staff or a scheme manager (warden)
  • An alarm system providing 24-hour emergency help
  • Social events and activities for residents
  • Usually sold on a leasehold basis in purpose-built housing developments

Pros and cons of over 55 housing

Making the move into purpose-built over-55 housing is a big decision. To help you weigh everything up, here are some of the main pros and cons to think about…


Potential pros of over 55 housing:

  • Properties tend to be smaller, requiring less maintenance than your standard house.
  • For ease and safety, retirement flats or apartment blocks usually feature lifts. Stair-free bungalows are available in many retirement villages, too.
  • Access to 24-hour support via an alarm system. 
  • Some housing schemes also provide additional care and support services.
  • Secure, community feel with communal areas such as gardens, lounges and sometimes libraries and leisure facilities.

Potential cons of over 55 housing:

  • Sheltered housing isn’t inspected and offers less support than assisted living, which may be more appropriate if you require care to live independently.
  • Can be more expensive to rent or purchase compared to properties elsewhere. 
  • Tend to be leasehold properties which require buyers to pay ground rent and a service charge. This covers services provided by the freeholder including repairs and maintenance of communal spaces, buildings insurance, security and more.

Over-55 housing for sale

Over 55 housing for sale tends to be from private developers who’ve built blocks of apartments or estates for their retirement properties. The main developers for retirement villages include McCarthy Stone, Audley Retirement Villages, Anchor and Retirement Villages. 

To find properties local to you, try the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC). Their site offers a host of information about retirement housing and where to find properties for sale.

Or, to find more over-55 housing to buy, you can search sites like RightMove, or speak to your local estate agents for information on listings.

To give you an idea of what’s on offer in a bespoke retirement village, we took a look at what Audley Retirement Villages have available. We found the lovely St Elphin’s Park, set in 14 acres of the Derbyshire Dales, which features 127 properties. 

Their available properties range from a £295,000 one-bedroom apartment, to £499,950 for a 3-bed cottage. In addition, you will pay £500 per year for ground rent plus £730.37 in service charges. Their communal features include a restaurant, bistro bar, health centre and fitness suite. 

Over-55 housing for rent

There is a great deal of over 55 housing to rent across the UK. Where to find them depends on if you will be renting privately or renting from your local council. 

RightMove is ideal for finding over-55 housing for rent privately across the UK. A search on their site for retirement properties in Bristol, for example, brings up options ranging from a one-bed ground floor apartment for £1,250pcm, to £2,325pcm for a luxury one-bedroom retirement apartment in the McCarthy Stone Retirement Village.

If you have a low income and are over 55, housing association rental properties may be available for you via your local council. Do be aware that over-55s housing association accommodation usually has a waiting list which you will need to join, though priority is based on need. 

You can find your local council on the government website.

Can I get equity release on an over-55 property?

If you live in over-55 housing and want to access some of your property wealth then you may be able to arrange an equity release plan to boost your finances. Equally, if you want to buy a retirement property but it costs more than your current home, a plan may assist you with the purchase.

If you have any questions about arranging equity release on retirement properties, speak to our friendly selected advisers. They are specialists who can not only advise you, but also search for the best lender and plan for your individual needs. 

Call our friendly team today on 0808 178 3055 or request a free call back here.

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