Blog > What are the pros and cons of over-55 communities?

What are the pros and cons of over-55 communities?

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By Richard Groom • 16th June 2023 • 5.5 min read

Is life in an over-55 community right for me?

Over-55 communities can bring you simplicity, security and companionship. But there are some drawbacks, including the cost of this style of living.

Here at Equity Release Wise, we take a keen interest in all things relating to over-55 life, since that’s the age when eligibility for equity release begins. One trend that looks set to go from strength to strength is the demand for over-55 communities.

We thought we’d take a look at how over-55 communities work, focusing on the pros and cons of choosing this way of life. In this article, we explore:

What is an over-55 community?

An over-55 community is typically a ‘retirement village’ or similar development built specifically for people approaching or in retirement. They are typically privately-operated developments for people who want to live independently. This is in contrast to people looking for sheltered housing or assisted living, which is often managed by a charity, local authority or housing association.

The developers of over-55 communities aim to create a safe environment for people who are looking for certain characteristics from their housing. The homes tend to be of a high quality and developments often feature a mix of housing types. Some developments feature lodge homes, apartments or bungalows in addition to houses, since people aged 55+ often desire these types of accommodation.

It certainly seems as though interest in over-55 communities is growing in the UK. In 2021 for example, Legal and General announced a £500m joint venture with the pension trust fund arm of NatWest to develop 5,100 homes in zero-carbon retirement communities. 

More recently, in their ‘Seniors Housing Annual Review 2022/23’, Knight Frank reported: “In the first nine months of 2022, more than £2 billion was committed to the sector, already surpassing the full year figure for 2021.”

Are all over-55 communities luxury developments?

Over-55 communities quite rightly have a reputation for being more expensive than more common housing developments. In return for this premium cost, you may find that luxury facilities are often integral to a retirement community. 

Some developments include onsite leisure facilities, such as a bar, restaurant, social club, swimming pool, gym, landscaped areas and so on. The developers or scheme managers may also arrange regular social or wellbeing activities for residents. Some even have onsite guest apartments for friends or family to rent when they visit.

Why might I choose to live in an over-55 community?

There are potentially several benefits of living in an over-55 community:

Health and wellbeing. Did you know that living in an over-55 community could boost your health and overall wellbeing? According to research by ARCO and ProMatura International, “residents in retirement communities stay healthier for longer, are more active, are less lonely and enjoy life more” compared to those who had not yet moved (but were considering making a move).

Access to facilities. Having a range of health, social and leisure facilities onsite can be much more convenient than having to travel to enjoy such facilities.

Social life. Living in an over-55 community puts you in close proximity with people your own age who might be especially keen to make new friends and integrate with their neighbours.

Simplified maintenance of your home. Living in over-55 communities often means that much of the repair and maintenance of your home is handled by the developer. There may even be well-maintained communal areas to enjoy, in contrast to having to maintain a large garden for example.

Personal safety. Some over-55 communities are gated, giving you a greater sense of safety, security and privacy compared to other housing options. 

Support as your needs change. In some over-55 communities, personal care services are available for you to access should you find independent living no longer possible.

Are there any drawbacks with an over-55 community?

Moving into an over-55 community does have some potential drawbacks:

Cost. Perhaps the biggest problem with a retirement community for some people is the cost. As we have seen, these tend to be luxury developments, and luxury comes at a price. Buying a property in one of these communities can cost more than elsewhere, and there will typically be maintenance and service fees to pay.

Selling your home. When selling a retirement property, you may be restricted to using an appointed estate agent or the operator’s own in-house sales facility. Also, ‘event fees’ may be payable when selling your home.

Leasehold. Retirement community properties are often owned on a leasehold basis. This may have certain drawbacks, such as the cost of ground rent and renewing a short lease – especially if you wish to sell and move in the future.

Limited space. If you are used to living in a large home, you may find that properties in over-55 communities offer much less space.

A lack of age diversity. Not everyone wants to live in a community where everyone is over-55. If you like the diversity of living in an area with people of all ages, this style of living may not be for you.

More information about retirement communities.

A number of organisations are there to help with further information about over-55 communities. For example, these organisations all have codes of practice for developers and operators that you may find of interest: The Association of Retirement Housing Managers (ARHM), The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) and National House Building Council.

Equity release on over-55 housing

If you already live in over-55 housing and want to access some of your property wealth, you may be able to arrange an equity release plan to boost your finances. Also, equity release may be a way to help you buy a retirement property.

For help with all matters related to equity release on retirement properties, speak to our friendly selected advisers. They can advise you and 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 to arrange an appointment with an adviser. Or if you simply wish to find out how much equity you can release, check your eligibility and get your free quote now.

About Richard Groom. A writer with 20+ years’ experience across several sectors including financial services, Richard has a passion for writing clear and simple content on even the most complex of subjects. In his spare time, Richard loves exploring the hills and mountains of the UK on long walks with his faithful cocker spaniel. Follow Richard on LinkedIn

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