DemographicsBuild-to-RentSingle-Family Rental

Independent Living Apartments: A Growing Lifestyle Choice for 75+ Seniors

April 18, 2015

The 75+ age group should grow rapidly over the next 20 years due to the aging baby boomer generation and longer life expectancy. What options are there for seniors who are relatively healthy but no longer want to maintain a home, cook meals, do laundry, pay utility bills, etc.? Independent living apartment communities are increasingly becoming a desirable option for this growing segment of seniors.

75+ Population to Expand Rapidly

The U.S. Census Bureau projects the 75+ age cohort will reach 23.4 million by 2020, up from 19.8 million currently. The most significant period of growth for the 75+ population is expected to occur between 2021 and 2035, when the baby boomer generation enters this demographic group. The U.S. Census Bureau expects the 75+ population to reach 28.8 million by 2025 and over 41 million by 2035. Homeownership peaks around 71 years old, according to analysis of Census data by Chris Porter, our firm’s Chief Demographer. Beyond that age, households begin to show a greater tendency toward renting, and apartments can meet that need.

The Independent Living Lifestyle Choice

Independent living communities typically serve the healthiest residents among senior housing and care properties, offering a lifestyle choice that provides freedom from daily chores such as cleaning, cooking, and home maintenance. The most common reasons residents move to independent living are to “get away from the upkeep of their home” and “be closer to family and/or friends”. Although independent living caters to senior men and women of any age, the typical resident is an 82-year-old widowed woman who is relatively healthy and generally does not require assistance with activities of daily living. Prior to moving, she lived in a private home located within 15 miles of the independent living community.

The Opportunity

The recent sharp increase in home values in many metros is helping boost demand for independent living, as home equity is often the primary financial asset that allows seniors to afford this lifestyle choice. Below are some of the current national trends for independent living communities:

  • Occupancy rates have risen to 92% nationally, up from 86% in 2010.
  • Occupancy rates are generally above 95% among newer communities, with waiting lists not uncommon in many desirable locations.
  • The average age of a community is 23 years.
  • The current capture rate among households age 75+ is 5.7%.
  • Recent research shows that 13% of households age 75+ cite independent living properties as “very desirable”.

Source: National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC)

More than ever, senior housing for the expanding 75+ age group should be viewed as both a lifestyle choice as well as “needs based.” Independent living apartment communities offer the best of both worlds for an increasing number of seniors.

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