Aging with grace: Are senior living homes right for you?

Senior living complexes are typically located on the outskirts of cities. (Mint)
Senior living complexes are typically located on the outskirts of cities. (Mint)


Retirement communities in India are estimated to be valued at $9.75 bn, with 8% annual growth

What comes to mind when you think of retirement? Old age, dependence on children, or relocating to a religious destination?

For Satish Malhotra and his wife Gulshan , the idea of retirement is anything but this. The couple always envisioned spending their golden years independently, away from the chaos of city life, while maintaining an active social life.

When Satish retired in 2007, his daughter proposed the idea of senior living communities, which prompted him to swiftly explore a project in Bhiwadi, a serene suburb on the outskirts of Delhi-NCR.

“It was still under-construction, but fulfilled all my requirements—spacious apartments and expansive green spaces within the complex. The added advantage being Bhiwadi is an hour’s drive from Delhi, where my children live, so visiting each other would be easy. In fact, I booked an apartment right on my first visit," said Satish, a retired engineer from the state electricity board in Rajasthan. He booked 3-bedroom, hall, and kitchen (3-bhk) apartment for 25 lakh, and eventually moved in after taking possession in 2012.

For Shalini Goyal and her husband Anil Kumar Lal, the decision to relocate to Ashiana Utsav, a residential community exclusively for individuals aged 55 and above, was straightforward. Shalini’s parents were residing in the complex since 2015. “During my visits to my parents, I grew fond of the quality of life here. Moreover, we desired to live near our family, and it aligned well since my parents own a house within the complex, and my sisters reside in Delhi and Gurgaon." The Goyals bought a 1,480 sq ft 3-bhk unit for 50 lakh in 2017.

Lal, an employee of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) lived with his wife in the residential society for BARC employees in Mumbai all through work life. “Ashiana has expansive green surroundings similar to what we had, so it was a comfortable transition. Just getting comfortable with the weather here in Bhiwadi took time," Shalini quipped.


Shalini &Anil, and Malhotras are part of a growing tribe of retirees who are taking a liking to senior living residential complexes: gated communities exclusively for senior citizens, and those over 55 years and, in some cases, 50 years.

However, there is no age bar to purchase a property in these communities.

Senior living complexes are typically located on the outskirts of cities, offering a serene and peaceful environment, and at a relatively affordable rate compared to properties within city limits.

Santhosh Kumar, vice chairman of the ANAROCK Group, however, said in some cases, these could cost more than regular housing projects given the specific facilities and amenities that are not commonplace. “Especially in the case of centrally located senior living homes it can be quite expensive. That said, the price will depend on the quality of a project in terms of the facilities it offers, and location. The cost must be factored against the quality of life and how much it would cost to replicate such a lifestyle in a regular housing set up."

Some retirement communities offer rental options as an alternative to purchasing a property outright, enabling individuals to experience the community before making a commitment.

The concept of retirement communities started in India in the mid-2000s and has since gained traction, and is estimated to be valued at over $9.75 billion, with an annual growth of over 8%, according to Kumar.

These projects are predominantly concentrated in cities like Coimbatore, Puducherry, Bengaluru, Kodaikanal, Chennai, and Mysuru in the South, and Pune, Jaipur, Bhiwadi, Bhopal, Vadodara, Noida, and Dehradun in northern and western parts of the country.

Unique differentiators

These purpose-built communities stand out by catering specifically to the unique needs of older adults. One key differentiator is the presence of a dedicated medical facility, with round-the-clock nurses and equipped to handle basic to mid-advanced medical needs. On-demand access to doctors further enhances healthcare provisions. Additionally, many also provide assisted living facilities to address the evolving needs of seniors as they age.

Vadodara’s Nayana Ben A. Pandya, 76, and Ashwin Bhai S. Pandya, 81, moved to a senior care home Dear Zindagi for the end-to-end assistance that it provides. They used to live in their own residence in Bharuch till Ashwin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2020. Following a brain surgery, the burden of managing the household fell entirely on Nayana.

“They had two helpers and one full-time caregiver, but my mother had to supervise them along with managing the multitude of other responsibilities of running a household. It got the better of her," daughter Pranili Bhatt, who lives in the US, said. The couple pays monthly rent of 1.2 lakh, which covers their lodging, food, routine caregiving along with mental wellness care, recreational activities and monthly outings to malls and movies. Fees for therapies and other medical treatments is separate, aggregating to about 1.5 lakh. “If you strictly compare costs, of course hiring caregivers at home was far cheaper, but the facilities here are invaluable."

The senior care institute will soon be launching standalone housing units and the Pandyas plan to sell their house in Bharuch to buy a house here.

In retirement colonies, home interiors and design of common spaces are also aligned as per seniors’ needs. For instance, almost all projects use anti-skid flooring and install railings in common spaces. Railing can be installed inside homes as well on request. Controls of electrical outlets, locks, latches and emergency panels are installed at convenient heights.

These retirement communities offer a host of recreational activities inside the campus and regularly organise group activities, such as sports and cultural events, parties for birthdays and anniversaries, weekly outings etc as a means to help residents build active, social lifestyles. Satish boasts of a tight daily schedule that involves hosting yoga classes for a group in the morning at 6, followed by a quick swim or a short badminton match that goes on till 8.30 am. His evenings are spent playing table tennis and card games. “There is so much to do that ," he said.


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Shalini said that since all residents are in the same life stage, living life at the same pace, it creates a sense of belonging and community. “There are groups as per shared interests and each person will find a group fit for them," she said.

A monthly maintenance fee starting from 2,000 is charged to all residents that typically involves maintenance of common areas, concierge services for basics and plumbing and electrical services. All the other facilities come at extra cost (see graphic). All communities have canteens that offer home cooked food, which can also be delivered at home.

What of the property

Property owners can sell their properties whenever they want. Most communities market the property themselves after determining current market value through independent experts. “After the Covid-19 pandemic, senior living homes came into greater demand, and many are seeing decent appreciation," said Kumar.

After the demise of the property owner, the property passes on to legal heirs. They can choose to sell it out, put it on rent or occupy it after crossing the minimum age requirement of living in these communities.

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