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Specialist housing options

We look at some of the many specialist housing options for older people, including shared ownership, retirement villages, Abbeyfield developments, and almshouses.

Older People’s Shared Ownership (OPSO)

If you would like to buy a home but can’t afford the full purchase price, there is a government-backed shared ownership scheme for people aged 55 and over. You buy part of a property and pay rent on the remainder. You can buy further shares in the property, up to a maximum of 75%. After this point, you won’t pay any rent.

  • The scheme is available in England only.
  • To be eligible your household income must be less than £80,000 (£90,000 in London).
  • The scheme is only for older people who are first-time buyers or who have previously owned a home but can’t afford to buy one now.

Find out more about the Older Persons Shared Ownership (OPSO) scheme

Retirement villages

Retirement villages are fairly new in the UK. They are usually large schemes set out like a village, with a range of facilities such as shops, restaurants, gyms and swimming pools. Personal care services are often provided.

Properties in retirement villages are available privately to buy, rent or part-buy. Make sure you understand what services are provided, how much they cost and how they are paid for, and check the lease to see what happens if you decide to sell or leave the property to someone.

The Elderly Accommodation Counsel has a list of retirement villages


The Abbeyfield Society is a charity which provides accommodation for people aged 55 and over. The type of housing varies, but could be a converted house with 6-12 bed-sitting rooms and a communal lounge. Some rooms have en-suite bathrooms. Residents are supported by a house manager and volunteers, and are provided with one or two cooked meals a day.

Some newer Abbeyfield developments are larger and provide extra-care accommodation.

Contact Abbeyfield for more information


Almshouses are run by charitable trusts and are mainly for older people. Each charity has a policy about who it will assist, such as residents in a particular geographical area or workers who have retired from a particular trade.

You occupy an almshouse as a beneficiary of the charity and do not have the same legal rights as a tenant elsewhere. Your rights are outlined in a ‘Letter of Appointment’ provided by the trustees.

Contact the Almshouse Association for more information about living in an almshouse


Homeshare is a scheme where someone in need of accommodation moves into your home. In return, they provide you with practical day-to-day help. 

Homeshare is different from live-in care options, such as professional live-in care or Shared Lives schemes.

Before deciding on what might be right for you, it's important to seek independent specialist advice before agreeing to let someone into your home or move in with someone else. 

What should I do next?

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We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 140 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 06 2024

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