No need to be home alone
By Sunitha Natti | ENS
02nd December 2012 10:29 AM
Planning to retire or planning for retirement? Here’s a new element to add to your to-do list—booking the retirement home. The concept of retirement homes, which found its origins in the West many decades ago, seem to have found its feet in India too.
Here’s why. According to the 2011 census, India has 76 million people aged over 60; the number is expected to peak to 173 million by 2025. “Many senior citizens are now living alone in cities and villages with no one to take care of them. It’s either because of the waning joint family culture, increase in migration of children (mostly abroad) to work or lack of reliable neighbourhood help,” says Sanjay Lakhotia, director of Gurgaon-based Aamoksh One Eighty, a dedicated retirement homes developer.
While one can continue to lead a non-dependent lifestyle in one’s own house, the developers say retirement homes provide better security, companionship and management ease. “Retirement homes are similar to regular residential complexes but with better facilities, such as a doctor-on-call service, an ambulance within the premises, in-house restaurants and housekeeping staff,” explains Shashank P Paranjape, managing director, Paranjape Schemes Construction Ltd.
The Pune-based Paranjape’s maiden project, Athashri, started in 2003 and is believed to be one of India’s first retirement homes. Buoyed by its success, the company intends to replicate the model in other parts of the country. It has earmarked `250 crore to build similar homes in Chennai, Goa, Ahmedabad, Baroda and Hyderabad, over the next two years.
About a dozen players offer retirement homes in India currently. These appear in two formats, flats and villas. The business model too differs. While some players offer a ownership model, others offer property on a lease/rental basis. For this, one has to deposit a refundable amount and subsequently pay a monthly rent to avail the home’s accommodation and services.
The developers say building a retirement home costs nearly 30 per cent more than building regular residences. “Constructions costs are higher and margins relatively lower in retirement projects owing to the latter’s enhanced design needs,” explains Aman Batra, COO, Impact Projects Pvt Ltd, Amritsar. That’s because accommodation for seniors, be it an apartment or villa, need to incorporate elements such as non-skid tiles, low-gradient steps, stretcher lifts, wide corridors for wheelchair access, anti-glare sensor lights and emergency hooters.
Still, players like Aamoksh One Eighty, Riverdale Retirement Resorts in Cochin, Chennai-based Classic Kudumbam, Maharashtra-based Dignity Lifestyle, Bangalore-based Serenity Retirement Residences and Coimbatore-based Covai Property Centre are focusing only on retirement homes while developers like Paranjape, Shanti Constructions and Impact Projects do such homes alongwith other residential and commercial projects.
“Each of our homes is built around a different theme and customer profile. Hence, each centre will have its own pricing strategy. For instance, our Kodaikanal property is designed more as a nature resort with a golf course, view of the mountains and we are only doing single-storey villas with large land parcels for people to enjoy nature,” says Lakhotia. Location is a crucial factor both in terms of pricing and positioning. Most senior homes are being developed either on the outskirts of major cities or at hill stations, holiday destinations or piligrimage places. “Rishikesh,
Dehradun, Coimbatore, Goa are some of the preferred destinations,” says Paranjape.
LIC Housing Ltd too entered the arena in 2008 with LIC Care Homes. Its first project, in Bangalore, involved single-storied bungalows with lawns. It is currently setting up similar projects in Goa, Lucknow, Hardwar, Puri, NCR/Gurgaon, Mohali, Mumbai/Pune, Hyderabad, Vadodara and Kolkata.
While DLF and Unitech have ruled out a likely foray into the retirement home space in the short-term, Mahindra Lifespace is not saying no. “It’s still a niche market, and in a nascent stage. We will gauge the demand before taking a call,” explains Anita Arjundas, managing director & CEO, Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd.
The reason is evident. “We all know there is a demand and the outlook is clear. But the business model still needs to evolve. Builders have to do a lot of groundwork to determine what will work–the ownership model or a lease model or a combination of both,” says Batra of Impact Projects.
Meanwhile, the seniors are coping the best they can.
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