Retire into these sweet homes

TRENDS

Retire into these sweet homes

Retirement homes: Builders are coming up with designer serviced apartments specially made to suit the needs of senior citizens.

The concept of retirement homes is culturally sensitive to markets such as India. There are several factors that are likely to contribute to a shift in this pattern. It is likely to gradually move from being a sensitive issue to an aspiration for independent living. The fading joint family system in India and other innumerable factors have given rise to West-inspired phenomenon of old age homes. 

Take New Zealand, for instance. There appears to be retirement villages in each NZ state. They differ in type and are strictly regulated. It appears that people generally buy into these “villages” and thereafter have certain clearly identified rights and privileges.
Financially independent people have slowly started thinking that a “new home” after retirement is no longer a dirty, daunting word associated with alienation, rejection, desertion or abandonment.

It is just what the phrase implies, a new home, a fresh start, and a place where you can continue to live a life of comfort - in the company of peers. Indian life expectancy is steadily increasing; alternative housing for the aged is a practical lifestyle solution that developers are now ready to provide.

The concept of retirement homes itself is undergoing a major transformation from its erstwhile image of being charitable institutions with minimum facilities to self-sufficient special communities/townships. Senior citizens now prefer to stay in retirement resorts instead of languishing in the quintessential old-age homes that they feel are congested and insecure. 

“The potential market is huge,” says Amritha who heads a property development company in Bangalore. Her market also includes couples who are likely to retire in about 5-10 years along with other groups such as NRIs and foreigners if there can be a retirement township in an area of more than 50 acres land. She also thinks it will be a success if the government can give some concession by way of tax discounts for such township.

How many are aware?
HelpAge India advocates with national and local government to bring about policy that is beneficial to the elderly. According to them there are no statistical data or surveys to support making any estimate of the proportion of population that would be the target market, “but a ballpark figure of one million out of the 90 million grey population would be a fair figure to mention.”

Of these one million prospective buyers, 50 per cent are not yet aware of the idea, and several thousand from the rest are either not in love with the idea if away from the main city or are investing in them as a long-term option.  
Professional builders who are innovative have jumped into the real estate market and are coming up with designer serviced apartments that have been specially made to suit the needs of senior citizens says, Nataraj Gangadhar who heads a multi-national real estate group in Bangalore.

Concerns like security, healthcare and entertainment are well taken care of in these apartments. The builders are also using the tourism advantage and climate to attract NRIs.

Thus, these homes are sure to be a big hit. For the elderly, health is a big concern and if that is taken care of, these homes will sell like hot potatoes. These are already becoming popular in and around cities such as Chennai, Mumbai Pune, Kochi, Goa and Delhi NCR.
Valsala Devi who is a senior citizen says what is expected from a good retirement home is a clean home, storage space, bigger bathrooms, windows that open easily, washers and dryer and porches.

Apart from providing good facilities, retirement homes provide companionship and security, the two things most needed when one is old and alone says, Kranthi Purushottam, administrator in an MNC Bangalore. She also thinks retirement homes should provide care to residents throughout their life, and not send them away when they start developing mobility problems or mental deterioration.

Shakti Nair, who works as a manager in a bank, Bangalore, takes care of her in-laws says advanced medical facilities in and around the area, high-tech security systems, recreational choices especially designed is what the developers should keep in mind when building a retirement home.

Competing with standards abroad
It will take some time before these retirement homes can be on par with the standards set abroad. Aspects such as medical or assisted care that are offered in developed housing markets like the US are currently more advanced. Some other differences are the procedural aspects of owning a house such as fairly well developed mortgage systems and access to loans which would require some time to develop in the Indian context thinks Adhitya, NRI from London.

Why Bangalore is preferred?
Keeping in mind the reducing square feet area in apartments, choked roads, suffocating environment and lack of adequate security measures, retirement homes are receiving an encouraging response from senior citizens, who want to live a quality life in a retirement village or township says Sanjiv, a Bangalore-based real estate broker. He also thinks there are many reasons why Bangalore is a preferred destination. While pleasant weather and gardens are the main attraction, Bangalore also boasts of good medical infrastructure and a relaxed ambience.

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