The retirement village concept is still in its infancy in Southern Europe. Retirement villages in North America, Australia and South Africa, for example, have existed for some time. Urban retirement condominiums are reasonably well established in European markets such as the UK, France and Germany. These are independent living “communities” which are often residential apartments with few, if any, on-site amenities or services. The common feature is that their residents are often selected and admitted by age (usually 50 or 55 +). The demographic, rather than any specific feature of the development, creates the price premium. To compensate, site selection is usually strict, to ensure that each is within a short distance of public transport and local amenities.
Luz Living takes the concept of independent living in Europe a step further. Aimed at the discerning retiree or pre-retiree, who wants access to a range of on-site amenities but also be within walking distance of all that a local town has to offer, Luz Living is a community within a community. Residents from around the world will form lasting friendships within a safe condominium of like-minded individuals, usually active and with a sense of adventure, while remaining totally integrated with the local town in which they live. And walking distance to a top beach, a totally unique situation.
While the number of retirement villages in the UK and other European countries is increasing, quality retirement locations, designed specifically for seniors/retirees and operating a range of independent living options, are still difficult to find in Southern Europe, and rare in Portugal. The very limited options available are often in remote locations that are far from amenities and/or inaccessible. CCRCs (continuing care retirement communities), that have recently been “rebranded” as Life Plan Communities in places like the US, are purpose-built communities that cater for residents from independent living, through assisted living and finally into a care phase of resident stays. The general feature of a CCRC is that they are usually built over a large area (or multiple phases of a large tower block), in order to allow each “stage” of retirement living to be built in a separate area, so as to not cause discomfort between residents with different requirements.
In Europe, condominiums or “villages” tend to be smaller and so it is rare to find a multi-phase offering in one property or even location. As mobility and accessibility, over time, become a challenge, the challenge is to create well-designed retirement communities that allow residents to age without being forced to leave, simply because they are 10 years older and require some help, or there are stairs, or the apartments are built over two floors. Luz Living eliminates all these issues by being designed for active retirees but recognising that one day we all age and do not want to be forced out of our homes because they are no longer right for us!
Most independent (non-care) long term senior locations operate an exclusively sales-based model, and rental models or those offering both rental or purchase options, continue to be few and far between. By creating a luxury offering, Luz Living offers unique opportunities for both residents and investors. The latter can purchase in the knowledge that there will be demand from seniors with good pensions who prefer to rent in retirement. These people are willing to pay a premium for the right quality, independent living community.
A point on terminology: the terms retirement living and senior living are used interchangeably. In Europe, retirement is often associated with inactivity and a “slower” existence. The use of the term “senior”, “silver generation” or even “50+” have been attempts at contradicting this image of retirement. In the US, for example, the word “senior” is associated with care. Retirement is preferred. Seeing beyond this culturally nuanced language embodies this project: Luz Living is for anyone who considers themselves independent, adventurous, community-loving. Age is not a factor although it is likely that most residents will be pre-retirees or retirees. Above all, our residents are sufficiently self-aware to recognise the benefits of good design: full accessibility so that every space outside and inside your own apartment can be accessed without having to climb any stairs, good external spaces with solar exposure but also creating shade for protection from the mid-day sun, visual assistance for indoor spaces that do not have natural light (like corridors), charging points for electric cars, to name but a few.
Whether you are a vets tennis champion, some who is in a wheelchair because of an accident, a musical composer with failing eyesight or someone who likes to watch the sunset from the comfort of their own private terrace while mingling with fellow residents in the owners- lounge and walking into the town for a meal, when Covid-19 allows it, followed by an ice cream along the beach promenade, Luz Living is for you. And when you start to need a physiotherapist to do some work on a sore back, a pharmacist o pop in to give you some advice on your cholesterol medication which is named differently in Portugal than in your country of origin, Luz Living will adapt to your needs: book a treatment room and use it like a doctor’s consultation room!
Luz Living is the first project of new developer Quality Living Algarve Lda, established by a consortium of experienced investors and developers, each with an interest in the senior and retirement sector. The shareholders of the company represent 7 nationalities, most of which have a historic or growing interest in the popularity of Southern Europe as a retirement destination. Between them, the shareholders have development expertise across 4 continents including specific experience in the approval, development and sale of residential projects in Portugal.Most importantly for residents, this expertise will ensure that a service-led proposition will be a key differentiator of the Luz Living project. Residents will have access to a picking list of services delivered via a concierge service.
The project has been motivated and the investors/shareholders brought together by Senior Living Villages (under its brand Portugal and Algarve Senior Living ), a European company focussed on providing solutions for the independent retirement (broadly speaking, 50+) market. Clients originate from more than 25 countries across multiple continents. Clients include a range of part-time and full-time expatriate retirees including many applying for residency via the D7 visa (self-sufficiency visa) or the Golden Visa (residency via investment).
The company operates a model that includes both real estate sale and long-term rentals. It will leverage this extensive, proven experience to underpin a solid revenue-generation model for Luz Living investors who wish to generate consistent, long-term revenues at a time when the tourism market is under great pressure.
Our typical customer is an active retiree with multiple interests and looking forward to welcoming their family in their new home in the sun. Even the independent will require help at some point, and over time it is possible, via local partnerships, to deliver medical attention or services later in life. We expect residents to age gracefully, and for Luz Living to continue to be an adaptable long-term solution, not requiring downsizing, upsizing or a forced move.