© The Financial Times Ltd 2014 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
This is specialised housing for older people (senior housing), based on independent living but associated with various levels of community engagement, care, support, and shared facilities that range from communal meeting places to extensive public spaces and sports facilities.
The properties are bought and sold subject to various contractual arrangements and annual fees charged linked to the care, upkeep, and facilities provided. House types vary from flats in apartment blocks to standalone properties in retirement villages.
Surveys in England suggest high levels of user satisfaction, especially when good contacts with family and friends are sustained. Ownership is valued for the sense of independence it offers, the continued existence of housing equity, and the absence of the future housing cost risks that arise when renting.
Older people move far less than those younger, frequently exhibiting strong attachment to the home and neighbourhood they are used to, even in countries where the elderly have a much wider range of more affordable housing choices than in the UK.
Triggers for moves are retirement, when for example some may chase the sun or sea; the adverse effects of isolation, possibly as a consequence of the recent loss of a spouse or other loved-one; and a need for higher care levels.
Specialised retirement accommodation represents only small parts of the housing stock consumed by the elderly. However, as populations age, the mobility effects of ageing are becoming more prevalent and the role of specialised retirement accommodation is growing.
In the UK, older homeowners are less able to move into OORH because of its high cost. This is caused by general planning-induced land shortages, which raise the price of all new housing, but also because the constraints, paradoxically, are particularly strong with respect to private retiree housing.