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Hybrid Retirement

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By Crispin Tomlinson


Published 20 November 2020


Crispin Tomlinson, Head of Residential at international law firm DAC Beachcroft, considers the changes driving the later life living market.

In 1910 the official retirement age was 74. There are signs that we are reverting to this as the impact of COVID-19 and Government changes to raise the official retirement age continue to alter thinking around retirement. Past COVID critical and now into COVID chronic, we talk about hybrid working and hybrid learning. I think we will also talk increasingly of hybrid retirement and continue to alter the concept of retirement.

Today’s 65 plus generation may have to work longer, but many will work more flexibly. They are also planning ahead, actively looking to their next move and building in contingency plans for less healthy days. As baby-boomers, the first generation of the twentieth century consumer culture, they are determined that the move needs to be somewhere aspirational. Possibly smaller, their next home needs to acknowledge the qualities of their lifestyle. In response to this, and for an undoubtedly expanding market, the emerging later life living asset class is raising its game. Volume, variety and quality are being added to the vocabulary of this sector.

Australia, New Zealand and the USA are just some of the countries where the market is more sophisticated. Currently only 1% of UK seniors live in a retirement environment, but this will only grow, as later life living providers are seeking to provide care and care providers seeking to provide retirement living. There is greater appreciation that living arrangements from 65-95 are just as varied as the requirements of 35 to 65 year olds and there isn’t a one size fits all solution. At the younger end in particular we are looking at an audience, who are as likely to have been to a Sex Pistols concert in their youth, as their predecessors would have listened to Perry Como. Any solution though needs to build in flexibility and technology will become an important part of the answer to future proofing evolving needs.

Location is an important part of the choice discussion. Some new developers in the Location is an important part of the choice discussion. Some new developers in the market are creating a clear proposition for the town centre, integrating the offer very much into the urban fabric. Others prefer the slightly more isolated country setting. Both approaches are though likely to be service-led and amenity heavy. With varying levels of care as part of the package, both approaches though need to pay careful heed to legislation and the sector will only become more regulated.

Developers are responding to these new candidates for later life living, a candidate who is thinking thirty years ahead, not three, to a future that is anticipated, although not clearly defined. Local authorities are well placed to have the same mindset. Some are very alert, others have yet to even develop an area care plan. As with other complex situations, collaboration between private companies and public bodies, is a critical element of the later life living challenge.