The older, well-heeled single Indian woman is now a prized investor in retirement communities coming up across the country. Most of them are widows with children settled far from home, some are divorced and a few unmarried.
At Aamoksh Kasauli, a retirement resort, 10% of all bookings have been done by or for single women. Sanjay Lakhotia, co-founder, Aamoksh, says this is a new development. “Single older women, whether unmarried, divorced or widowed, have an immediate need for independent living options. In comparison, couples often book and then move in much later. So, this demographic is becoming important to us,” says Lakhotia. A studio apartment at Aamoksh Kasauli costs Rs 45 lakh and a 2BHK, Rs 98 lakh.
Tara Singh Vachani, CEO of Antara Senior Living, has noted a similar trend. “Ten percent of all our sold apartments are owned by single women,” says Vachani. When she began work on Antara in Dehradun, Vachani’s target audience did not really include older single women. But she was pleasantly surprised to get a remarkable number of queries from educated, successful women who wanted to invest in luxury retirement options. One of them was Saroj Rakyan, 72, who lost her husband 10 years ago and has two children who have settled abroad. Health concerns and the problems of single-handedly running her Delhi home pushed her to start looking for senior living options. “Many single women in my age group are exploring the option of living in retirement communities since they offer healthcare, security, comfort and companionship all under one roof,” says Rakyan. The benefits can come at a stiff cost — apartments at Antara cost between Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 6.6 crore.
According to Census 2011 data, India has 1.5 lakh single women who have never been married in the 60-64 age bracket. “This can be an attractive demographic for retirement estate developers,” says Himanshu Rath, founder of Agewell Foundation. Their number, he adds, will only increase as the number of elderly in India projected to reach 143 million in the next five years.
Generally, there has been a change in how Indians are planning for old age. “I see more people accepting the fact that they will need help in old age and actively preparing for it,” says Arun Gupta, chief executive at Age Ventures India, a not-for-profit organization. AVI is currently a knowledge partner with builders constructing retirement homes in Gurgaon, Ahmedabad and Bangalore. In all three projects, says Gupta, investors include singles, both men and women.