Following a 20% population increase of those aged over–65 in County Durham, new research has revealed that low running costs are the main priority for older renters, especially since people aged over 65 are currently occupying over 60% of England’s least energy-efficient homes.
Many older people in Durham are now bearing the burden of the sudden demands on housing, only made worse by the cost of living crisis. This increase in energy bills and need for more energy-efficient housing means that in a recent survey from not-for-profit later-living provider Anchor, low running costs unsurprisingly topped the priority list for 71% of older renters in Durham. As well as low running costs, they also prioritised a desirable surrounding area (61%) and friendly neighbours (59%), with the latter increasing with age, particularly once respondents reached 65.
54% of those surveyed in Durham had positive associations with the term ‘retirement housing’, with one respondent stating that retirement housing for them conjured up images of “a place to happily live in retirement, due to social interaction, and shared interests with likeminded people”. This upbeat trend continued with 72% of Durham respondents stating that they would consider living in an age-restricted property, 8% higher than those answering from nearby Gateshead. Retirement provider Anchor is trying to help this demand for housing for older people, with a target of creating 5,700 new homes over the next 10 years.
Becki McGlone (38), whose mother resides at Anchor’s Oakwood Court on Gypsy Lane in Marton-in-Cleveland, has seen the positive benefits of moving into a specialist later living home first hand. She says, “The difference in my mam is not just mentally but physically too. Mam has become a person that I’ve not known before. Since I was four my mam was diagnosed with M.E., and then later Dystonia and has suffered so physically with it never mind the effect it has had on her mental state.
“For mam to be able to be that bit more independent now and use more of the facilities at Oakwood Court and speak to people again is just amazing. So much has changed for her and knowing that she is in suitable accommodation, with heating and hot water included in her service charge, has taken such a weight off my mind. I know she is safer where she lives now in such a friendly and understanding community.”
On the research findings Jayne Lawson, Director of Rented Housing at Anchor, comments: “With Durham’s ageing population facing a significant under-supply of suitable accommodation, our purpose-built and well-maintained retirement housing is needed now more than ever.
“Our research shows that people are focussing on what they have on their doorstep and that shift is shaping their needs and expectations when it comes to where they are going to live, particularly later in life. People want better access to amenities, to live near family and friends, have a greater sense of community and the friendliness of neighbours, suggesting that local connections, both practical and social, are becoming increasingly important.”
For more information on homes for rent for over 55s in the North East, please visit www.anchor.org.uk/properties-rent-across-northeast.