Which downsizing tribe are you? What the Platinum Generation needs from retirement housing

Melissa York
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There is nowhere near enough housing stock; we’re all agreed on that. But could building homes for Baby Boomers – born after the Second World War and currently moving through retirement – be the solution?

According to Age UK, if just half of the 58 per cent of over 60s who are interested in downsizing were able to do so, it would release £356bn worth of property into the market, nearly half of which would be three-bedroom homes for young families.

But according to Octopus Healthcare, only 2 per cent of the UK’s stock is designated retirement accommodation, housing just 1 per cent of Brits in their 60s. The number being built has also decreased from 30,000 per year in the 1980s to 8,000 per year today.

So who are these downsizers and what do they want from retirement housing? Estate agent Strutt & Parker and Octopus Healthcare sought to find out, surveying over 2,200 UK residents aged 65 or older. The report, The Platinum Generation, found six ‘tribes’ outlined below, all with varying needs.

Stephanie McMahon, head of research at S&P, says, “They want access to local culture and recreational facilities, but also accommodation that is flexible enough to meet their future care requirements.”

Savvy Shrinkers

Aged over 70, this tribe are the true downsizers. They are practical, constantly in a state of decluttering and have always planned to move to appropriately sized accommodation as their circumstances change.

Blitz Kidz

Aged over 70, Blitz Kidz tend to be single (possibly widowed or divorced), without access to private pensions or income from investments, and are looking for a rental retirement product. They tend to be lifelong renters, but if they currently own their own home they are not likely to benefit from a large equity release when the property is sold. This tribe holds traditional values and will often have a ‘make-do-and-mend’ approach.


Likely to be single individuals, Escalators are over the age of 75 and seek a retirement housing solution because of the services that it can offer. Whether it is weekly help with a grocery shop, or more personal needs, members of this group are beginning to require additional assistance, or recognise that they are likely to need extra support in the not too distant future.


The Instagrammas (and Instagrampas) are socially outgoing and health conscious, not just concerning food but also when it comes to physical and mental fitness. They are attracted to technology and its benefits and would be considered early adopters for their cohort.


Likely to be aged over 65, this tribe are probably retired but enjoyed a high household income while working and now have income from both pensions and investments. They also own their home outright. They have enjoyed spending on goods, services and family members but haven’t planned for their housing and care provision in retirement.

Peter Pans

Peter Pans are aged 60-65 and ‘kept up with the Joneses’ when they were working, but realise retiring from high-income jobs will restrict their accustomed lifestyle. While they have private pensions and investments, these are unlikely to fully fund their retirement, especially as they have a desire to help their children and grandchildren financially.

Read more: The UK's 10 new rental tribes

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