Retirement homes in vogue as Indians live longer and prosper

Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:16pm EDT
 
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By Aditi Shah

PUNE, India (Reuters) - The Athashri retirement community offers the over-55 crowd Western-style amenities such as a clubhouse, gym, library and pool but with a distinctly Indian twist: a temple on site where residents worship Ganesh, the elephant-headed god followed by many Hindus in Maharashtra state.

The 180-unit development in the city of Pune, which enjoys better weather and less bustle than nearby Mumbai, overlooks open fields and hills and is set in lush gardens - an appealing escape from the crowds and grime of India's mega-cities.

Retirement communities like this one are just beginning to gain traction in India, where the multi-generational "joint family" structure endures despite rampant modernization. The concept of housing for the elderly still carries a social stigma in the country, which accounts for less than 1 percent of the $25 billion senior housing industry worldwide.

But rising incomes, longer life expectancy and the rise of nuclear families as more people relocate for jobs are driving demand for retirement homes in Asia's third-largest economy, and attracting developers and investors.

Paranjape Schemes Ltd, which manages Athashri, is among a handful of companies tapping the burgeoning senior living sector including Max India Ltd, backed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc, LIC Housing Finance Ltd, The Covai Group and Ashiana Housing Ltd.

Tata Housing Development Co Ltd, part of India's biggest conglomerate, launched its first senior housing project in May in the southern city of Bangalore, and plans at least four more, catering to independent retirees looking for better security and services than what is available in ordinary housing.

"A significant section of seniors today are independent, financially stable, well-traveled and socially connected, and as a result have a fairly good idea of how they want to spend time after retirement," said Brotin Banerjee, CEO, Tata Housing, which expects revenues of 950 million rupees ($16 million) from its 700 million rupee project investment over three years.

While India is much younger than Japan, China or the United States, the number of people over age 60 is expected to more than double to 173 million by 2025.   Continued...

 
Aruna Gokhale (L), 81, watches as her husband Vidyadhar Gokhale, 84, plays guitar in their flat at the Athashri retirement village in Baner, on the outskirts of the western Indian city of Pune, June 18, 2013. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui