The first of a three part article on why small towns could be the net not senior living development opportunity.

18 months ago I received a “hot lead” from the Vigil Health Solutions corporate office for an emergency call system opportunity in the town Hughson, California. My California geography is really really good and includes a pretty comprehensive list of one horse or even half horse towns. 

This was one I had never heard of so I went to Google Maps to figure out how I had missed it. I discovered it was a town with a population of just over 6,500 located in the heart of the central valley.  In other words just a little farm town. 

The senior community, Samaritan Village had a capacity of more than 200 independent and assisted living residents.  I made an appointment to go do a site visit, and even though their website showed a pretty nice place, I was expecting to in reality find either a dump or a senior community that served some very specific religious affinity group. 

It was a great place open to the community, and while not at 100% occupancy the numbers were not bad at all.  Since that time I have spent a lot of time wondering if small town America is a major untapped development opportunity and keeping my eyes and ears open for other successful small town successful senior communities. 

I have come across a few since then though none quite as compelling at Samaritan Village. 

Then by coincidence, while I was at the LTC & Senior Housing LINK conference in Chicago and then at the CXO summit in West Palm Beach each event had a compelling presentation that directly addressed the very question I had been thinking about.

Are there unmet needs and by extension unmet opportunities in small town America?

 The short answer is a resounding yes and not just for not-for-profits.  Over the next couple of weeks I will post two additional articles that outline the specific reasons of why these communities are great opportunities.  In the meantime here are the highlights:

  • Development times are much shorter
  • Development costs are much lower
  • Capital costs can be substantially lower, and not just because development costs are lower
  • There are amazing opportunities for ancillary income
  • When you get there first, the small size creates an almost impenetrable barrier to entry for competitors.
  • There could easily be thousands of potential sites.

If you are already operating a small town community and would be willing to talk to me about it, I would appreciate hearing your story.

Steve Moran