Excess demand challenges Dutch senior living providers

Demand for senior living accommodation is currently massive in the Netherlands because the housing market has such a mismatch in requirements.

People living in larger houses want to downsize to affordable and attractive housing concepts where they can live together.

Cees Van Boven, chair of the board of Woonzorg Nederland pointed out that there are also about 40,000 people known to be living in houses that are not fitted for their requirements.

Senior living company Woonzorg Nederland is represented in half the municipalities in the Netherlands and has 30,000 dwellings that it rents to individuals and 13 000 dwellings that it rents to around 100 nursing companies.

Affordability is an important consideration for Woonzorg Nederland as a social housing company. “Our strategy is to provide affordable housing of which 90% is termed ‘social’, but 10% to 15% is in the mid range, so up to €1,100 which is ‘affordable’ housing in the Netherlands.”

Van Boven’s team has recently compared the senior housing market in Japan with those in Europe.

“People in Japan work much longer than in the Netherlands – at around 70 to 75 people are still working,” he told Real Asset Insight’s Richard Betts. This is partly because the pension scheme is different. Van Boven said that both in terms of ‘meaning’ and health it is better to work longer than to stop working at 62.

He added that another big difference is that there are more daily activities for people in Japan including saunas, restaurants and gyms where young and elderly people do activities together. “So people live in their own houses, but they go to a type of welfare centre. There’s much more stress on welfare than on care in Japan,” he added.