Pensioners are flocking to seniors rental villages in the wake of COVID-19, with occupancy rates of the affordable over 50s housing model hitting record highs.
Leading provider Ingenia Gardens, part of the ASX-listed Ingenia chain, reported a 94 per cent occupancy rate at June 2020, three per cent above the same time in 2019. Ingenia Gardens has 26 villages across Australia.
Meanwhile, competitor Eureka - also listed on the ASX - reported June 2020 occupancy of 95 per cent, compared to 91 per cent in June 2019. Eureka has 2,262 seniors rental units in more than 39 villages across Australia.
Ingenia Communities General Manager Residential Communities Nicole Jentz said the rise in occupancy has been largely driven by a demand from older Australians looking for a safe place to call home and an active community life to combat feelings of isolation.
“The effects of loneliness on older Australians have been widely reported during the pandemic, and seniors are searching for dedicated communities that will help them stay safe, healthy and happy during their retirement years,” Ms Jentz said.
“Aussies need retirement living they can rely on, with staff who can support and advocate for their health and wellbeing, while maintaining their independence – I think this desire is contributing to a larger group of people considering community living for the first time.”
Even before COVID-19, one in five older Australians reported feeling socially isolated and affected by loneliness, with organisations like Beyond Blue voicing concerns about the profound impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of certain groups.
For Ingenia Gardens Wagga Wagga resident Lida Van Lierop, finding a retirement community that offered a lively social life and community connection has been a saving grace during periods of COVID-19.
“I feel very safe here and there is so much to do here even while we socially distance – we have exercise groups, games, puzzles, happy hour and all sorts which keeps us entertained,” Ms Van Lierop said.
“Having a community around me has helped me greatly during this time, and I know that’s the case for other seniors here.
“And when we go for walks, we can chat through our doors and have a yarn when we go to our mailboxes − there’s great spirit in our community, everyone is keen to stay connected to one another.
“My main goal for my retirement was to find a community where I could feel happy and active, and that’s what I have here.”
About seniors rental villages
Seniors rental villages are a great rental-only housing option for older Australians.
They typically provide accommodation, meals and group activities for their tenants, with a village manager in attendance. They tend to be based in outer metropolitan and regional areas, where the lower price of land makes them viable.
The pricing of rental villages is often set to make them affordable for people whose sole income is the age pension.
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