“Bungalow Mindset”

Recent headlines in the press have heralded a new era of bungalow building for our rapidly expanding population of older people.

  • Bungalows are back” – The Times, 26 August 2013.
  • “Build thousands more bungalows”- Daily Mail 26 August 2013

The news that new planning guidance is about to be issued to local authorities to build more houses for older people, was stimulated by a Policy Exchange think tank report commissioned by Hanover Housing Association published in April, written by Alex Morten, entitled:-

“Housing and Intergenerational Fairness”


This paper is strong on its analysis of the current situation of older people in the UK, particularly in terms of demographic change.  It also has some interesting insights into the financial value of older peoples’ assets.

Some of these facts, though not a new revelation, are largely being ignored by politicians and to some extent by the elderly themselves.  For this reason, they are worth repeating though the think tank piece is short of ideas about what can be done, except for the significant fact that “the country needs to build more homes that people – particularly older people – want to live in and that blend in with existing communities and the countryside”.

Some key facts:-

Over 50’s own 82% of property wealth;

  • In 2011 three quarters of older people are homeowners;
  • The number ofUK residents over 60:
    • In 1951 was 7.9 million
    • In 2010 is 19 million;
    • In 2030 is predicted to be 28 million;
    • Significantly the oldest age groups will grow fastest between 2020 and 2030.  Those over 74 will increase by 73% from 7.4 million to 12.8 million;
    • By 2040 the ageing population is estimated to cost £80 billion in today’s money and which will be 5% of our GDP.

From a housing perspective, these figures all point in the same direction – there is a massive need for more housing – particularly for older people.

The paper then underlines the value of “downsizing”.  It highlights that amongst the older population there are 25 million spare bedrooms which is a very inefficient use of capital by the elderly themselves.  In contrast, it points out that release of capital from a primary residence is still free from capital gains tax and so should be a strong encouragement to move to a smaller property.  Currently there are few options and the paper emphasises the need for high quality property in order to attract people to move.

It then veers off at a tangent by advocating bungalows, which ignores the reality of high land values. Co-housing is put forward as another alternative but this is only likely to make marginal impact unless the Government is prepared to invest more in capacity building.

Nonetheless, the central message is that we need to build a very substantial number (upwards of 200,000 new homes a year) of high quality retirement homes.

I will write some more thoughts on this subject of bungalows in my next blog.

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3 Responses to “Bungalow Mindset”

  1. You old dog! I could not scatch my backside with any more pleasure than this blog? On the face of things life looks simple, Old folk, less mobile, build houses on the flat ! I gently add where have the thoughts or brains gone too?
    Retiring is simple at 60. 65, or 70+ Just stop work and do what one may wish themselves. At 80+ less active what then, what thoughts have we all got? For certain our physical being will be less athlectic than when we retired, we may find stairs, and walking a slight problem, we may need support, and what about our neighbours: Who are they? do they care who we are? what is the scenario that life offers. Just think at retirement age, does one wish to downsize, live with the extended family, be independent, be part of a community, or the community at large.
    Politics will be interesting in the next 30-40 years as the UK populus as a majority will be in the retired bracket, and yet each of us over 65 will have a vote, and what is more are we still passionate or selfish as to what politicians or political parties can offer us as individuals?
    When one retires one has many things to think about, and as one enters 70+ one has to consider what decions one has made to wards retirement, and old age! and where the decisions made at retirement correct?
    The planners have to resolve the aging population problem for the UKPLC. One aspect i have been pleased with is the choices my wife and I had at retirement: Which was to downsize and move into a retirement Village Concept as run and organised by the Extracare Charitable Trust Coventry.:NOTE WELL THIS IN NOT A REGISTERED CARE/NURSING HOME CONCEPT as defined by the Act.
    All residents had to be over 55, one of the partners had to be retired. Ones neighbours were of like mind and their financial status was different, and varied, provided the financial support (Assisted or otherwise) was/is able to offer in payment pensions and other emoluments sufficient monies to cover the weekly charges. The occupancy of accommodation was by lease/share or social tenents, and ones savings/assets were utalised to guarentee purchase of a lease share holding or a weekly rent(In addition to the weekly ammentities charge.) Care when required was as one would have in a private household-One was responsible for a direct cost- when this was or is not available then one must apply for government assistance.
    Each of of the households live independently: Their have been built into the village, public area for family and friends, and other residents to enjoy unrestricted under certain conditions: provided they are not abused.
    There is a large communial Hall for dancing, shows and displays, Restrurant, cafe, bar, corner shop, unisex hairdressers, library, IT Suite, reception, Gymnasium (with guidance on exercise fatigues age related to ailments and physical fitness), craft and hobbies rooms, Meeting rooms for family occassions, and designed into the complex was an ‘alzheirs suite’ ( This is something that is used for small social function, such as card playing, meetings on reminecence and other social age related activities.).
    It all sounds grand and is in fact a well thought out retirement village. Priase to the Governors of The Extracare Charity.
    What I have not covered is one of neighbours. At the original concept there was and still is a social mix 1/3 Lease;1/3 Shared ownership and 1/3 social tenents and of these groups there was in total 1/3 on support (assisted Living) and all our groups were graded in age, and to this day these mixes are actively addressed.
    What do i think? I had not appriciated at 64 and retired when I moved into the village that as I aged now 71 that I had made new friends, and that we all wished for physical security of the premises, and to a great extent this has become true. One major point I have noted is that ‘alzhiemers’ creeps up on one, and provide one is not violent in physical or medial actions then the Village community can help a great deal and provide solice and comfort- There is no dierct pill potion or corrective actions that can solve this problem. Loneliness for the infirmed and over 80’s who may have lost mobility is a problem, but then this is a retirement village, and one must face those facts when apply for residency. What is needed is companship.
    Part of living in this retirement village and its ethos was the role as a individual as a ‘volunteer’ either one to one or as a general group, and all the public assets mentioned above depend upon each villager as they see fit providing some form of support in unpaid- enjoyalbe hours. The ethos was for say 2 hours per week from each villager. In general terms this appears to work, and most people villagers and friends get the satisfaction of helping the community out: It is more of a social cost rather than a straight forward £sp agreement-Although to each villager their is a real benifit in helping Extracare Control Costs, rather than 100% take from the system.
    This village I am in has some 254 appartment on 4 levels of accommodation ( 1 and 2 bedroom flats) with 2 reliable large lifts, giving a population of some 350-380persons?: Any number less than this may not work so well, and any number lager than this my invoke a ‘ghetto’ metality for the elderly, and a care home status may be a must???
    As I said at the begining life is not simple and bungalows are not for us all!! I trust I have not written’BUNKUM’?

    • Going on from my screed I reflect, gently on society as I knew it! Ibelieved most people married for various reasons, and that at retirement age, with ones partner/spouse, maybe a dependent, one looked forward to life together and socially among friends. If and when death parts the companship/relationship, one is devestated. My personal reasoning in these circumstances was to grieve, but reflect on what a good life i had had in the partnership, and yet be among friends, who i and my spouse/partner/dependent met when we first moved into the retirement village.
      What I am trying to say is that an Extracare Retirement Village in not just a village for the single partner/spouse/partner, but to enjoy as a couple/relationship, and joining one should not be looked on as a backstop for ‘what should I do when I am alone in this world’? but as alifestyle of here and now and enjoyment together, with passion and vigour, and all the other human emotions that make a lifelong relationship wonderful.
      In this modern world and society going on from today, and tomorrows retiree’s will they all be seperated/ devorced and single, there is a welcoming place for them at Extracare: the point is how will society adjust to the single elderly person, with respect to their personal outlook on life, and should we all live in studio flats or appartments, instead of one or two bedroom appartments? Maybe by then we will be building elderly ‘Ghetto’s’ for the aged.
      Remember at retirement support is a far away dream, at 70 it becomes consided at 80, it may be a reality and at 85+ i suspect some form of support becomes a essential, and in the future do we need a new catorgory of help and accommodation for the elderly, a cross between a retirement village and a residential care home defined and protected by legislation. I am afraid bungalows and retirement houses consisting of a younger persons dream dwelling, must be matched by reality, downsizing, and with ones asset savings using them for when we need them latter in our 80’s+ for welfare and physical support.
      Politics and social requirements will determine the future, and while one may look towards the state for the NHS and welfare:One has to some degree got to remain financially independent, in the future. We as UKPLC need a healththy younger working population, not one out of work, or on the dole. Again Bungalows do not solve this problem.
      Like a house purchase ‘Buyer beware’ for the retiring persons’ :’Be aware of the future’ and hopefully make a wise decision, either as an individual as a spouse /partner or responsible partner, and through the ballot box as a greater social society.
      Time now for breakfast!
      By the way John this is an ODE to you , thank you.

    • john graham says:

      Well done David. The first post is certainly not bunkum, but an expertly informed commentary on your experience of downsizing and the opportunities it can offer.
      Your second post is more of a one man “think tank”. A powerful reflection on the issues we all should consider as we get older, but many people fail to contemplate until it is too late and by then their options are limited and often decided for them. Your experienced adds greater weight to the perspectives you have outlined, and rightly questions the younger somewhat “head in the clouds” rationale of some think tank pieces.

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