In 2013, Kiran Gupta wound up her business and shifted to an old-age home in Jaipur after her two children got settled. While initially things were okay at the old-age home, over the years the quality of services deteriorated and she found it difficult to stay there. Gupta, now 62, discussed the problem with her daughter, who did some research and zeroed in on a senior living housing society, Utsav Senior Living, in Bhiwadi, Haryana. Gupta, whose husband died 25 years ago, shifted there in August 2018. 

“Food quality deteriorated a lot at the old age home, maintenance was low, very little assistance was available and the behaviour of the staff and organisation head was unpleasant. Compared to the old-age home, things are much better here. The facilities, amenities and the overall environment is much healthier," said Gupta. 

Pawan Bagga, 73, shifted to Ashiana Housing’s senior living project Nirmay in Bhiwadi, Haryana in July 2018. “Someone told me about this place, and I discussed the option with my children and we came to check it out. I got very impressed with the friendly and comfortable environment here and decided to live here," said Bagga. Her husband died eight years ago. She has a son living in Australia, another in Himachal Pradesh and a daughter in Delhi. Bagga doesn’t like to travel too far, but often visits her daughter in Delhi.

Like Gupta and Bagga, more and more Indians are considering staying in senior living societies after retirement. 

Read: Monetise physical assets to raise cash in your old age

The demand

Indian families are getting smaller, with children exploring job options in other cities and countries.

Moreover, there is an increase in number of elderly population in India. According to a recent report, Indian Senior Care Industry 2018, by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), “In about 30 years from now, the elderly population in India is expected to triple from 104 million in 2011 to 300 million in 2050, accounting for 18% of the total population in 2050." 

Pawan Bagga, 73, liked the friendly and comfortable environment of the senior living community she went to check out and decided to shift. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Pawan Bagga, 73, liked the friendly and comfortable environment of the senior living community she went to check out and decided to shift. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

In this scenario, the senior living real estate industry in India is witnessing a huge demand, which is going to only increase over the years. This points to a significant growth prospect for the industry. “If we look at the present scenario, there are only 20,000 units of senior living available, while the current demand is of around 230,000 units," said Mohit Nirula, chief executive officer, Columbia Pacific Communities, a developer of retirement communities with close to 1,600 residential units under management in five cities in southern India.

The supply

With demand on the rise, real estate developers are gradually foraying into this mostly untapped segment. The ongoing slowdown in the overall housing market is also leading developers to focus on end-user products, including senior living societies. 

Real estate developers such as Tata Housing, Paranjape Schemes, Ashiana Housing, Adani Realty, Silverglades and Brigade already have residential societies targeting seniors. Currently, there are 37 firms into senior living housing, according to the CII report. Apart from established developers, other business groups are also getting into this segment. For instance, Antara Senior Living, Dehradun, is a senior living community by Max India Ltd. “Considering the success of our senior living project in Dehradun and demand in the segment, we are going to launch another senior living housing project in Noida in a couple of months," said Renuka Dudeja, head of marketing and communications, Antara Senior Living.

The options

Unlike old-age homes, most of these senior housing projects are part of larger residential housing projects and townships. “This gives an edge to senior living communities over traditional old-age homes. Facilities and amenities are much superior and being part of a housing society helps elders build a social life as well," said Arvind Nandan, executive director - research, Knight Frank India, a real estate consultancy firm. However, “developers should try and focus more on engaging senior residents in some kind of commercial and economical activity. That will help attract more elders," added Nandan.

There are different formats of senior housing available today in India. Independent living, where you take care of your daily needs and work on your own, and assisted living, where you need others to help you in either medical or other work, are the most common formats.

One can buy a unit or take one on rent. While Bagga owns a two-bedroom house at Nirmay Senior Living, Gupta has rented out a one-bedroom house in Utsav Senior Living. The communities offer all the services like canteen and medical facilities to its residents, irrespective of whether they own or take the unit on rent.

However, the services come at a cost. “I pay 5,500 per month as rent and 1,500-2,000 as maintenance," said Gupta. The total cost of living for Gupta is about 18,000-20,000 per month, while she was paying 15,000 per month at the old-age home but with fewer facilities and lower quality of services. Apart from monthly cost, “I had to pay a refundable security deposit of 31,000 at the old-age home in 2013; the present rate is 51,000. Here I paid two-month rent ( 11,000) as advance for security and 6,000 as canteen deposit," said Gupta. Bagga pays monthly maintenance cost and charges for other services as per use.

The sector is still at its nascent stage in India and may undergo various changes before it matures fully. Watch this space.

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