How the needs of the next generation of retirees are leading to a sea change in the way that modern retirement villages are being designed and developed.

The latest research suggests that the next generation of retirees will be seeking ongoing connection, stimulation and engagement with their community beyond the boundary walls.

Design elements such as cafés act as an invitation to families, friends and the wider community to come and connect with village residents.

An example of an entirely new approach to retirement village design is currently under construction in Red Beach, on the Hibiscus Coast at Metlifecare’s new ‘Gulf Rise’ retirement village.

“Gulf Rise is the first of our new model of retirement villages under construction in New Zealand. We know from our research
that people approaching retirement want to feel connected, they don’t want to be stuck behind high fences.” Glen Sowry, Metlifecare CEO

RETIREMENT village living is increasingly becoming a lifestyle choice according to ANZ Business Insights, with 13.5% of over 75- year olds in retirement villages in 2017 compared with 9.8% in 2008.

However, where the word ‘retirement village’ used to conjure up images of gated residential communities, the latest research suggests that the next generation of retirees will be turning this definition on its head, instead seeking ongoing connection,
stimulation, engagement with their community beyond the boundary walls.

THE BABY BOOMERS ARE COMING

The oldest cohort of baby boomers is now reaching retirement age. As this new generation approaches their elder years, retirement village design is adapting to meet their changing needs. The term ‘Baby Boomer’ was  coined by researchers to define the post-war generation. As a group, baby boomers were more liberal, optimistic, more active and physically fit than
their parents.

Baby boomers also hold a large portion of the wealth in developed countries, so it’s not surprising that as they start to
make decisions about where and how they want to retire, the retirement village industry is taking notice.

Founder of the retirement  ‘Village Guide’ Paula Bishop believes “it’s an ‘exciting time’ for the industry and for retirees
as retirement village operators are going above and beyond to meet people’s changing needs… some villages are embracing an ‘open-gates’ policy by creating opportunities for residents to connect with the wider community.” says Bishop.

Retirement Village operators agree. In the most recent annual survey of retirement village operators conducted by ANZ,
63% of respondents identified the need to develop a new proposition to appeal to new retirees.

FROM RETIREMENT VILLAGE TO LIFESTYLE VILLAGE

An example of an entirely new approach to retirement village design is currently under construction in Red Beach, on the Hibiscus Coast at Metlifecare’s new ‘Gulf Rise’ retirement village. Gates and high boundary walls are noticeably absent
in the design, which instead utilises the latest in urban design principles. Security of the village is boosted through a  combination of natural strategies meaning crime prevention is integrated into the village design itself, as well as
through controlled access and surveillance.

Pivotal to the design is the café, located on the entry to the village’s central street, which acts as an invitation to families, friends and the wider community to come and connect with village residents. The rest of the village flows like any well-planned town, including gardens, open pavilions for functions and events and a central bowling green.

Metlifecare CEO Glen Sowry said the thinking behind the Gulf Rise project acknowledges the industry is changing. He
feels that retirement village developers and operators such as Metlifecare need to listen and ensure they stay up to day with the needs of the retirees of the future.

He says “Gulf Rise is the first of our new model of retirement villages under construction in New Zealand. We know from our research that people approaching retirement want  to feel connected, they don’t want to be stuck behind high fences. Consumers want to live in a place that feels like a normal street and is bustling and vibrant.”

The response to Metlifecare’s new village design has been overwhelming; hundreds of enquiries and appointments
have already taken place through their recently opened sales office in Orewa. Michelle Pipping, Sales Executive in
the Gulf Rise sales office reckons the response “is like nothing we have seen before. People are telling me they don’t feel ‘old’ or ready for a traditional retirement village and this development offers them something modern and contemporary instead.”

NEXT WEEK: More than lawn bowls: We look at the trend towards wellness which goes beyond physical wellbeing and the effect on the amenities  and activities provided within retirement villages.

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