While plans for a purpose-built retirement village here have yet to get off the ground, a new project launching in three months' time across the Causeway is hoping to lure Singapore retirees over, with promises of "state of the art", old-age friendly living.
A Malaysian developer is building Platinum Residence (picture) as part of the $2-billion Lakehill Resort City in the Iskandar Malaysia special economic zone.
An hour's drive from Singapore, the condominium-style retirement village will be staffed by nurses who conduct daily medical checks, said Mr Bill Ch'ng of Lakehill Resort Development. "It's built near the hospital, so it's convenient in case of emergency ... All the facilities in (the city's) public park will be old-age friendly," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Ageing Asia Investment Forum. He declined to say how many units would be available or the price tag, saying plans are still being finalised.
Would Singaporeans bite, giving the experiences some have had with development projects in Johor that failed to deliver as promised?
An official of the developer gave MediaCorp the assurance that "the project will not fail and should meet the expectation of Singapore buyers". "We are a public-listed company and Amanah Raya, a property investment arm operating under the jurisdiction of the Malaysian Finance Ministry, has shares in this project," he added.
In 2008, a plot of land in Jalan Jurong Kechil was released for the development of a retirement community, as Singapore grappled with meeting the needs of an ageing population. But to date, the land has not been taken up by a developer.
Developer Daniel Teo, who has been championing for a retirement village here, said high land costs and the "too short" lease of 30 years offered by the Urban Redevelopment Authority presented hurdles. Also, the allowable built up area for a retirement village is significantly smaller than that for a condominium, making it more of a risk for developers.
"I think we also need some guidelines to facilitate this kind of retirement village concept. For instance, under condominium guidelines, you can have an efficiency ratio up to 90 per cent. While for retirement village, the best is maybe 60 to 70 per cent," he added.