Construction crews broke ground this month on a new luxury retirement complex overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in Ashkelon. Within two years, four apartment buildings containing approximately 160 apartments in total will be completed, creating a village within the coastal city for elderly tenants.
The project — which promises it will be as good or better than American retirement villages — joins around 80 senior living facilities across the country. These offer a range of services, from simply living alongside people of the same generation, to full-time care for those with conditions such as Alzheimer’s. There are also 180-day centers that offer social interaction and activities for those living independently.
Israel is a young country, with about a third of the population consisting of children aged 0 to 14, according to population data made available earlier this year. However, people over the age of 65 number around 1.14 million — or about 12% — and that number is set to increase.
Among other priorities, the government has building plans to include smaller apartments and long-term rental apartments, projects that can help to accommodate older people, many of whom are keen to maintain independence. But some research shows there are benefits to living within a retirement community as people grow older, especially if mobility and loneliness become issues.
The new Ashkelon project is modeled after senior villages in the United States, said David Zwebner, a long-term Ashkelon real estate agent who is heading up marketing for the new retirement village.
The village “will not just be a home, although we are selling individual apartments, it will be a community which can share a high quality of life together,” Zwebner said.
“We are modeling the scheme on the very best provision for the elderly in the United States which has led the way in retirement communities. It’s for the active older person who is looking for a beachfront property where they can enjoy life for as long as possible, and where they can continue to live even if their health deteriorates as they get older.”
Those buying into the project will have their choice of one, two, and three bedroom apartments, all with two bathrooms, measuring between 65 and 95 square meters (700 to 1023 square feet). There will be a large indoor pool, a gym, a sauna, and a jacuzzi, as well as other communal spaces for regular activities within the village. Food will be available to order as needed, and there will be on-site medical facilities 24 hours a day, with a nurse permanently in residence, said Zwebner.
There are no age restrictions on who can buy into the project, only on those who can live there, he told The Times of Israel. So it’s possible for investors or children with elderly parents to purchase an apartment within the complex.
For the first month, the development is open only to existing Ashkelon residents, who are also being offered a discount of 5% for buying in at the start. After that, the project will be advertised around Israel, as well as to communities in South Africa, the US, and Europe.
Zwebner said he plans to entice retirees to move their lives to Israel and to choose Ashkelon, which he sees as one of the country’s most underrated locations.
Prices for apartments, which will be bought outright and registered to individual owners, are expected to be between NIS 1,500,000 ($463,042) and NIS 1,900,000 ($586,519). Like all retirement villages, there will also be a monthly service charge to reflect the range of centrally provided resources, of NIS 3,900 a month ($1,204).
Zwebner said affordability is not the only criteria for entry. “There will be a committee to vet and approve residents, to ensure that the village works effectively as a community, and that we maintain standards. If we can achieve that, we will create something that is truly special for everyone who lives there,” he said.