Shaping the Future of Senior Living in Dubai
Home to art, fine dining, luxury shopping and real estate, Dubai has over the years attracted high-profile celebrities to its shores. However, over the past year and a half, it is not just the rich and the famous who are making this city their home. The UAE is increasingly becoming a hotspot for expats looking to settle outside their home country on account of the advanced quality of life, lifestyle, security and first-class amenities that the country offers.
A retirement law announced in 2018 which allowed expats aged 55 years old and above to receive a long-term visa made the prospect even more attractive and has brought in retirees to the UAE. It has also stimulated the demand for home ownership across the country and gave greater permanence to resident behaviour and real estate purchase decisions. According to the latest numbers from the Dubai Statistics Centre, there are 170,000 people in Dubai who are over 55 years old, with expats representing almost 92 per cent of the population in the emirate. If only 10% of them plan to retire here, there will be a demand of at least 10,000-15,000 homes for these retirees.
An untapped opportunity
The majority of retirees in the UAE are those who both lived and worked here for years, or those who have children and families living here. Although a home in a relaxing community is more appropriate for seniors, some would still prefer to live in the city to be closer to services and facilities.
There is presently no housing in Dubai focused exclusively on retirees. While there are retirement communities available, none specifically cater to seniors, and experts and developers alike believe that the implications are significant, with new sub-sectors of the housing market being established to cater to would-be investors approaching retirement age. When it comes to existing residential homes, those that “benefit from great locations, easy access to great healthcare services, and offer communal living” are the most appealing to retirees.
Retiring in style
Elsewhere in the world, senior communities tend to be low to mid-rise, and on the outskirts of cities rather than bustling downtowns. In Dubai, you have an equal mix of all types of properties — from beach front to community living and even mega high rises. Moving forward, we expect that developers targeting senior residents will focus more and more on incorporating quality healthcare facilities and services within their developments in the form of on-site care or potential tie-ins with key healthcare operators, as well as designing their projects in such a way as to provide the right level of privacy and serenity while allowing for an active community life.
Currently, some of the top international investors of real estate are from the GCC, India and China. We anticipate that this trend will continue, and that the retirement visa will increase demand from these major markets, as well as from purchasers who are already familiar with the UAE. The retirement visa will also likely attract seniors from other markets such as Africa and Europe, so the potential demand for senior homes in Dubai will likely rise in the coming years.