The average age of Hawke's Bay residents is increasing and, with it, the demand for retirement options.

Napier and Hastings have at least four retirement villages in development, providing about 600 new independent accommodation units and beds.

An apple orchard on Te Aute Rd, on the outskirts of Havelock North, will be replaced with a retirement village from Ryman Healthcare.

In the Napier suburb of Te Awa, Summerset is about to break ground on its fourth Hawke's Bay village.

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Also in Napier is Bupa's development nearby the Hawke's Bay Expressway.

And Bryant House plans an expansion.

Retirement Villages Association executive director, John Collyns said about 15 per cent of the over-75s in Napier City and Hastings District chose to live in a retirement village.

The extra accommodation is expected to provide hundreds of jobs, inject tens of millions of dollars into the Hawke's Bay economy and ease pressure on housing stock due to the villages' higher density.

If the residents of Summerset in the Orchard in Hastings are anything to go by, retirement villages will remain a popular choice.

"People think it's an old-people's home when you shift in here, but it's actually far from it," Bruce Hewitt said.

"You can do a lot or you can do as little as you want. A lot of people have outside interests. It's just a great place to be.

"My wife passed away and this village has actually been marvellous for me with the companionship.

"Personally I don't know how I would have survived out there in the world on my own but such great people here and management. I just love the place."

Brian Smith said the village provided security.

"If anything happens my wife is protected - she has a lot of friends," he said.

"If anything happened to her, no way would I move out of here.

"We have all the facilities here that we need, we have a beautiful cafe, we have friends.

"Living in a place like this does take a wee bit of getting used to but once you are used to it, it's about people looking after people."

Sheila Brackell said she was glad she made the move from her home in Auckland.

"You're never without a friend, never without support and it's just a different life from Auckland. More peaceful.

"And living in the village you don't have to worry about your home. That was a big thing for me, being on my own. If I want to go away on holiday that's it - I can just shut the door and I know the house will be taken care of while I'm away.

"I wouldn't go back to living on a normal street."

People don't own their retirement village accommodation. Most villages sell a lifetime licence to occupy and while there are variations on the financing, there is legislated protection.

"The business model sees the residents handing over a large capital sum to the operator and they don't get a lot of ownership back in return," Mr Collyns said.

"So quite clearly it is important their interests are protected. So Parliament passed the Retirement Villages Act which places a whole suite of protection around residents in their village and to make sure that those investments are secure, no matter what happens to the village."

While village life is popular in Hawke's Bay, it has a way to go to catch up with the Bay of Plenty, where twice as many over-75s live in a retirement village.

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