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A quiet place to live, away from the metros

A home for senior citizens

A home for senior citizens  

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A growing number of senior living projects are coming up in tier-II cities on account of availability of affordable land parcels, social amenities, and health services. By Ramesh Nair

There has been a marked increase in the number of senior living projects since 2010. With growing acceptability and demand for senior housing units, such projects are coming up in the suburbs of all key metros in the country and in some tier-II destinations such as Coimbatore, Goa, Dehradun and some parts of North India.

It is anticipated that the elders in India would increase both in absolute numbers and relative strength, indicating a gradual swing to a senior population. According to a CII study, the elderly population in India is expected to triple from 104 million in 2011 to 300 million in 2050, accounting for 18 per cent of the total population. It is estimated that the population above 60 years of age in India will touch approximately 170 million by 2025.

Besides growth in sheer numbers, seniors are also evolving as a customer segment and have needs and wants, which are different from seniors in earlier times. A significant section of seniors today are independent, financially stable, well-travelled, and socially connected. At same time, their needs are not rightly understood and therefore not met appropriately by both public and private sector at large.

There clearly exists an untapped opportunity for investment and development in this sector. Unlike western countries where the senior living industry has gained maturity, India provides an opportunity to developers, service providers, healthcare players and operators to create solutions specific to India while leveraging learning from across the world.

While a substantial proportion of seniors want to live in the city around their children or in proximity to them, nuclear family and space issue in top metros create social challenges.

Elders living on the outskirts of the city enjoy the peaceful, expansive environment. On the other hand, living inside the city provides quick access to good medical facilities such as a super-speciality hospital, among others.

There are several factors because of which the senior living segment is expected to thrive on the outskirts of major metros and especially in tier-II cities.

Affordability

One of the key issues that has an impact on senior living is affordability. While there is a desire to live independently, ‘diminishing returns’ on post-retirement finances means a lot of senior citizens cannot afford such projects. Since land prices in the major metros are very high, senior living has more potential to thrive in tier-II cities where land value is less.

Lesser congestion

Seniors prefer living in an environment which is crowd free, has a lower population density, lower traffic volumes and lower presence of polluting industries. Some of the larger metros like Delhi and Mumbai do not fulfil these criteria. This also makes tier-II towns ideal for senior living projects.

Large land parcels

There is a realisation that senior living is not just old age homes; social infrastructure is important around these projects. They require amenities such as large gardens, parks, walkable green spaces and wheelchair-friendly pathways. In cities like Mumbai or Delhi, it would be difficult to come up with such projects as it would be a costly affair. Developers want quicker movement of inventory and increased absorption levels. The requirement of large land parcels is another reason why senior living is more likely to thrive in tier-II cities.

Healthcare accessibility

Availability and quality of healthcare play a very important role in the success of senior living projects. According to JLL Research, an estimated 27 million seniors require specialised healthcare. Most of the senior living projects have a day-care facility for minor ailments and regular check-ups. Typically, senior living complexes should be in a radius of 5-8 km or within 20-30 minutes distance from a good secondary and tertiary care hospital.

With quality healthcare increasingly available in tier-II cities and major healthcare providers setting up bases there, these cities are ideal for senior citizen projects, since developers can enter into tie-ups with them.

There are other requirements of senior citizens which tier-II cities fulfil. One is the presence of places of worship, clubs, retail mall, entertainment and other recreational facilities nearby. Tier-II cities also give senior citizens access to employment, since seniors, especially in the independent living stage, want to stay employed, even if it is part-time.

According to JLL Research Analysis, an increasing number of developers are venturing into the senior living space of the Indian market.

While most of the projects are holistically dedicated to senior citizens, many developers are also launching integrated townships wherein a proportion of total units is dedicated to senior living along with generic residential development. For reasons mentioned above, most of these projects will thrive in tier-II cities.

It remains to be seen what kind of steps governments take to cater to this sector. Special status to senior citizen projects like hospitals in terms of FSI, tax incentives to developers so that such projects become more affordable for the senior citizens, and allotment of land parcels for senior citizen projects similar to public amenities would help.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 1:32:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/homes-and-gardens/a-quiet-place-to-live-away-from-the-metros/article30051004.ece

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