Retirement villages are an increasingly popular option for last time buyers wanting to downsize or have a ‘lower maintenance lifestyle’, new research has claimed.

According to a survey of 1,009 homeowners aged 55 and over carried out by Inspired Villages Group and partner Legal & General, nearly a fifth (18%) of them would be willing to move to a retirement village at some stage – and nearly a third (29%) say their current properties are no longer suitable.

While nearly 31% of last time buyers think their current properties are too big, nearly half of them (45%) are attracted to the ‘lower maintained lifestyle’ associated with retirement housing.

A total of 17% also like the community feel of retirement villages and 13% perceived security to be a benefit of living in them.

Economics consultancy Cebr estimates there are over three million potential last time buyers in Britain today.

Based on its estimates of the 572,300 last time buyers identified in the research as open to moving into retirement accommodation, it calculates 187,900 households potentially want to move this year.

Given that around 3% of over 55s in the UK turn 73 every year, there is potential demand for around 16,500 new retirement homes or village occupants in 2019, and 16,800 in 2020, according to Cebr.

Just under half of last time buyers (49%) also said that they would stay within five miles of where they currently live if they moved and 45% of downsizers were keen to live in a bungalow.

Phil Bayliss, head of later living at Legal & General, said: ‘This demonstrates an extraordinary opportunity in the later living sector. With only 7,000 units being delivered each year, the disparity between the current supply and potential scale of demand is significant.

‘The huge health benefits demonstrated through providing appropriate housing, such as a 50% reduction in GP visits and 40% reduction in NHS spend, means that increasing the number of properties available to these buyers is the most efficient way to help solve the UK’s housing crisis and spiralling NHS costs linked to our ageing population.

‘Legal & General is utilising its patient capital to bring the necessary scale of supply to this underserved sector of the housing market, with ambitions to build the Inspired Villages Group national footprint to over 50 sites by 2023.’