Assisted Living Operators Closest to Returning to Pre-Pandemic Average Occupancy Levels

The senior living industry is racing back to pre-pandemic occupancy — and operators of assisted living communities appear to be closest to the finish line.

Assisted living operators have since the start of the pandemic recovered roughly three-fourths of their overall occupancy losses, according to a new analysis from NIC MAP Vision. Independent living operators, on the other hand, have only recovered their occupancy losses; while

That said, occupancy is still highest among independent living operators, according to the analysis.


As of the second quarter of 2023, average independent living occupancy sat at 85.4%, down from the pre-pandemic average of 89.6%, according to NIC MAP Vision. Assisted living occupancy sat at 82%, down from the pre-pandemic average of 84.5%.

Overall, average senior living occupancy in the 31 major metro markets NIC MAP Vision tracks ticked up to 83.7% in the second quarter of this year, representing the eighth straight quarter for average senior living industry occupancy growth.

The analysis mirrors trends that executives of senior housing companies have shared recently. For example, on Tuesday, Welltower (NYSE: WELL) CEO Shankh Mitra noted that assisted living communities in the company’s portfolio were continually “outperforming” independent living communities in the company’s senior housing operating portfolio.


As assisted living communities continue their march toward pre-pandemic occupancy, they are doing so against a backdrop of favorable supply. New inventory increased by roughly 1,100 units in the second quarter, which NIC MAP Vision noted was the lowest level since the organization began tracking the data in 2006.

The number of units under construction in the 31 NIC MAP primary markets also has dropped from historic totals, standing at 34,401 units in 2Q23, representing the lowest level since 2015.

The number of assisted living units under construction has exceeded the number of independent living units under construction since 2011, according to NIC MAP Vision.

“In recent quarters, however, the gap between the two property types has narrowed with majority assisted Living comprising 52% of units under construction in the second quarter of 2023 and majority independent living comprising 48%, so each made up roughly half of construction,” wrote NIC Senior Principal Caroline Clapp. “In comparison, majority assisted living comprised more than 70% of units under construction in 2013, which was its peak share.”

Still, there is construction underway in many locales, with “much of it concentrated within several individual metro markets,” Clapp wrote.

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