NIC: The Best and Worst Markets for Senior Living Occupancy

Occupancy rates for assisted and independent living communities are either red hot or freezing cold, depending on where you look.

That’s according to a new analysis of data on 31 primary markets from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC).

For assisted living, occupancy rates swung wildly from market to market, ranging from roughly 93% in San Jose, California, to around 72% in San Antonio. Overall, 24 of those metro areas saw occupancy drops and eight saw gains in the first quarter of 2017 when compared with last year’s totals.


NIC singled out five markets that saw record or near-record lows in assisted living occupancy rates for the quarter:

  • San Antonio (72.3%)
  • Denver (84.4%)
  • Cleveland (83.2%)
  • Washington, D.C. (88.2%)
  • Pittsburgh (89.2%)

The gap between high and low rates for independent living communities in the first quarter was a little tighter, with Houston at 83% occupancy on the low end and San Jose, California, logging a 96% occupancy rate on the high end.

Four markets—Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago and Dallas—reached near-record high occupancy rates for majority independent living properties in the first quarter, while two—Houston and San Antonio—saw record lows, the NIC data shows.


Nationally, there was a 370 basis point difference between majority assisted living and majority independent living occupancy rates (87.2% versus 90.9%), which represents the largest differential in the two data series since NIC began logging these numbers in 2005.

Markets in slow motion

Many markets experienced a big slowdown in assisted living occupancy rates over the past year, with Cincinnati (down 580 basis points); St. Louis (down 470 basis points); Washington, D.C. (down 460 basis points); Riverside, California (down more than 440 basis points); and Denver (down 370 basis points) ranking among the cities that fared the worst.

Still, other markets posted gains in assisted living occupancy rates, such as Houston (up 310 basis points); Phoenix (up 200 basis points); New York City (up 100 basis points); and San Diego (up 100 basis points).

Of the markets that saw decreased rates of independent living occupancy, some tumbled farther than others.

Houston’s independent living occupancy (down 570 basis points) fell the most, followed by Atlanta (down 430 basis points); Sacramento and San Diego, California; and San Antonio.

Written by Tim Regan

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