Village Voice

Retirement villages are good for communities – here’s why

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Retirement villages are good for communities – here’s why

A good retirement village benefits its residents, its residents’ families, its neighbours, and the local economy, creating a positive ripple effect throughout the wider community.

“Retirement villages offer so much more than just living options for seniors,” says Village Guide founder Paula Bishop.

“When well-planned, they become an integral part of the local community,” she adds.

Here are four examples of how communities benefit from retirement villages.

1. Retirement villages free up the housing market

When retirees buy a residence within a retirement village, they usually put their home on the market, creating opportunities for new families to buy in to an area and increasing local housing supply.

This peaks when a new retirement village is being built, and continues throughout a retirement village’s lifetime.

For example, independent residences within Metlifecare villages are resold every eight years on average, says chief executive Glen Sowry.

“On average a Metlifecare resident in independent living stays for around eight years, so if you have a mature village you will have around 10-12 per cent of units in the village turn over each year,” Mr Sowry told The Dominion Post.

When residents move into assisted living or rest home care, the independent units become available once more, which often results in more local homes being put up for sale.

2. Retirement villages create short- and long-term jobs

From planning and construction through to management and ongoing maintenance, retirement villages create hundreds of short- and long-term jobs within their communities.

For example, a new Ryman Healthcare village destined for Havelock North is expected to create more than 100 long-term jobs upon completion. And that’s without counting the hundreds of jobs it creates throughout the development and construction phase.

The new Havelock North village is just one of many developments currently underway. Several other villages are in the pipeline around New Zealand, and they are all expected to create significant employment opportunities. For example, a new Alpine Retirement Group village in Hamilton is expected to create 120 long-term jobs and a new Arvida Group development near Nelson is expected to create long-term 80 jobs.

3. Retirement villages boost the local economy

Today’s retirees – the ‘Baby Boomers’ – tend to be active, engaged and keen to make the most of the services available in their local community. They enjoy spending time and money at local cafes, restaurants, cinemas, and shops, and they also use local service providers such as dentists to car mechanics.

This has huge benefits for the economy, especially in small regional communities where businesses are in need of regular clientele.

The construction of new villages also circulates wealth, before retirees have even moved in to an area. For example, a new Real Living Group retirement village in Warkworth, the Oaks on Neville, engaged local contractors wherever possible and has been carefully designed to benefit the local economy.

ANZ Commercial & Agri General Manager Penny Ford says developments like these will make a lasting impact, especially in regional communities where “the dollar goes a lot further”.

“The benefits of an investment like this into regional New Zealand is a great growth story,” Ms Ford said in a recent press release.

“We’d encourage regional communities to think about what benefits development like this can bring,” she adds.

4. Retirement villages bring people together

A new trend is emerging in the retirement village sector: that of ‘open-gated’ communities. Residents wish to be part of the wider community, not segregated, and have clear expectations of what a good retirement village should provide.

Ms Ford calls this a ‘Retirement Revolution’, and says Baby Boomers are leading the way.

“Many of the people approaching retirement have much different expectations about how they will live in retirement,” says Ms Ford.

“The same-old same-old just won’t cut it anymore… Instead of a bowling green and library, they are looking for cinemas, restaurants and a place to park the Harley – they want to stay active and social. They also want a facility that’s integrated into a community, where everything is close and handy.”

One way developers are responding to these demands is by opening some village facilities to the general public such as their village cafe and indoor pools.

According to Arvida Group chief executive Bill McDonald, the benefits of open-gated communities are far-reaching.

“We think, that for people to have healthy, active and engaged later years, it’s important to stay well connected with the community,” he told the  Nelson Mail.

“We think, we should be actively seeking to engage with those who live outside our communities as well,” he adds.

Metlifecare is also strong in this area; Orion Point, its new development in Hobsonville, is a great example of community integration.

The question facing developers has evolved beyond ‘what do retirees need?’ to ‘what do retirees want?’, and community integration is at the top of the list. This can only be a good thing for the communities set to welcome new villages in the near future.

 

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