by Property Forum | Residential

Co-living has become a buzzword on the real estate market, but sharing living space, interests and values can benefit not only young people, corporate professionals or students. Cushman & Wakefield’s latest insight report “Co-living – a new era for the real estate investment market in Poland” explores senior housing. Forecasts by the Polish Central Statistical Office (GUS) indicate that by 2050 the number of Polish people aged 60 and over will have risen by approximately 52%. Co-living therefore represents both an opportunity for retirees to enjoy a new lifestyle and a trend that has a strong growth potential.


Data underpinning the trend

Co-living for retirees is a growing trend that has a strong growth potential given the current demographics – the Polish society is increasingly ageing. As Poland’s population is projected to shrink by 4.5 million by 2050, a steady increase in the number of people aged 60 and over is on the cards. Forecasts by the Polish Central Statistical Office (GUS) indicate that by 2050 the number of the country’s inhabitants aged 60 and over will have risen by approximately 52% (from 9 million to around 13.7 million), accounting for more than 40% of Poland’s total population. What’s more, from 2026 onwards, Poland will witness a surge in the number of seniors aged 80 and over. Between 2025 and 2040, this population will experience a twofold increase from 1.7 million to 3.4 million. The changing demographics are shaping market trends. The growing numbers of seniors will also create potential for the development of services dedicated to the elderly.

The need for co-presence

Senior housing is being driven by the growing needs of seniors. As people age, they become less capable of performing personal care activities. According to the latest European Health Interview Survey (EHIS), every third senior aged 65 years and over experienced difficulties in everyday personal care activities. In the oldest group (those aged 80 years and over), nearly six out of ten people experienced such difficulties and almost 45% of seniors had to cope with such problems on their own. Social needs are another issue. “Social Cohesion Survey 2015” indicates that one in ten elderly people have very limited social interactions. Having said that, retirement does not have to be an end to living an active social life. Quite on the contrary, it is an excellent opportunity for seniors to continue or even start living an active lifestyle. Many senior housing projects will enable the elderly to pursue their passions and interests, keep in touch with other people and do better with everyday challenges.

How seniors live

Senior housing as it is now presents a challenge for the market. Large apartments on top floors of buildings with no lifts will cause problems and prevent the elderly from living comfortable lives. In addition, elderly people have a variety of assistance needs. In Poland, there is a dearth of modern senior housing projects, for the time being at least. There is a considerable gap in standards between Poland and the US or Western Europe. Senior centres continue to be perceived by the Polish society as substandard old people’s homes - most lack high-quality rehabilitation facilities and offer no other entertainment than just spending time in a TV room. On top of that, some Polish senior centres are too big, which does not help with the integration of their residents, social interactions, and building mini-communities. In addition to providing medical and rehabilitation care, such facilities should create an environment that supports the integration of people.

Modern solutions

Modern senior housing offers great opportunities to develop a new real estate sector tailored to the needs of the elderly. Senior housing projects based on an appropriate concept and developed in suitable locations will enable elderly residents to pursue their passions and interests, socialise with other people, and better deal with everyday challenges.

“Independent living projects that enable seniors to live independently and in dignity are very popular in the US and Western Europe. Buildings that integrate seniors, families, children and those in work (The Palms of Largo in the US for instance) are an interesting solution. Another one is the Humanitas retirement home in Deventer, the Netherlands, which enables students to live free of charge alongside the elderly residents as part of a project to alleviate the adverse effects of ageing. Poland also has its first senior housing facilities, exemplified by Rezydencja Na Dyrekcyjnej in Wrocław, run by ORPEA Polska. The complex consists of self-contained parts: apartments for seniors and a care centre with an Alzheimer’s facility. Both are part of a single campus but have separate entrances. Residents have access to comfortable apartments with kitchenettes and bathrooms. In addition to being provided with medical care and assistance in everyday tasks, they participate in cultural events and other activities,” says Małgorzata Dziubińska, Associate Director, Consulting & Research, Cushman & Wakefield.