According to the Dutch housing policy for the elderly independent living is the future way of life: stay at home longer when you get older. As a consequence the aging population in the Netherlands indeed lives less in institutions the last years. The general insight is that aging residents prefer to stay independent at their own home. 

However it is known the aging population process is the largest in the periphery of the Netherlands. This might be no problem as in general the dwellings in rural areas seems suitable, in the sense that a residence is accessible and through accessible without climbing stairs to the main dwelling rooms. The main challenge for the elderly in these areas is –if this is needed- the care and support at home. 

In general the moving mobility in the Netherlands is rather low, especially among the elderly and in particular among older owner-occupiers. As a consequence older owner-occupiers live independently for longer than tenants. Older owner-occupiers and tenants live on average more than twenty years in the same neighbourhood whereas owner-occupiers of 65 years and older even live five years longer in the same area. Precisely this last group -mostly living in a land-bound property- strongly increases in the Netherlands the last years. 

Therefore our first research question is: Why stay in your own dwelling in a peripheral area if you ‘re getting older and might be in need of care or have to deal with a diminishing health? Are older homeowners more attached to their home in the course of time or are they forced to stay because of the declining housing prices in these regions?

The second question concerns the homeowner who decides to stay in the region independently as long as possible. How can you manage to stay at your own home if you live at the countryside and need care? Which needs do aging people have to live longer independently in their own home? Which ICT and smart home technology do they –according to themselves-  need now and in future?

Our study aims to contribute to the research on the motivations of older owner-occupiers in peripheral regions of the Netherlands for staying independent at their own home as long as possible. Another goal is to improve the living conditions of aging people maybe with help of smart home technology and house adjustments so they live independently as long as possible in their own home.

First of all we want to declare why older owner-occupiers stay in a peripheral or depopulating region. Why would they stay in a region with less facilities? 

We use a mixed-methods approach for data collection starting with desk research, data-analysis of e.g. the European Quality of Life Survey, focus group discussion and semi-structured interviews with aging people living in different regions in the Netherlands. 

Our results show that the majority of the interviewees mostly has no problems with independent living. According to themselves they have adequate solutions for staying at  home as long as possible. Most respondents have a positive attitude towards ICT-adjustments and smart home technology to overcome moving difficulties, feeling comfortable and save at home now and in the future.

From the results we conclude that most of the interviewed respondents -according to themselves- are well equipped, prefer to stay independent at their own home and don’t want to move to an institution.

Advise to the Dutch government is to support the older residents of the rural regions to stay at their own homes maybe with help of smart home technology. For sustainability of the communities in these peripheral areas (access to) fast Internet is the most important condition. This will help to improve the regional development and attractiveness of areas that are effected by depopulation.