Life at a retirement village can be exactly what you want it to be.
As well as providing somewhere to live, moving to a retirement village can offer a lot of benefits that you often wouldn't get when simply moving from one street to another. For some people, it's not just a new house they are seeking, but a whole new approach to life.
A retirement village should relieve you of everyday chores such as gardening and home maintenance, leaving you to focus on doing the things you want to do with your free time.
Despite its name, you do not have to be retired to live in a retirement village. You can be working and still qualify to live in a retirement village, purely on the basis of your age.
It can vary from one local council to another, but generally you need to be over 55 or 60. If you are part of a couple, often just one of you needs to be this age, but do check the retirement village’s own regulations.
Here are some of the most compelling reasons to consider buying a property in a retirement village.
1. Holiday mode at home
Like a holiday resort, a good retirement village is likely to offer leisure amenities and essential facilities, all conveniently located close to home.
There could be places to socialise, such as bars, cafés, restaurants or larger venues for bigger gatherings. There may be places to relax, which can include gardens, swimming pools, spas or allotments.
It could boast a village shop too, perhaps even a hair salon or gym - in fact everything you might expect to find in any small residential area.
You can also often expect to have wonderful gardens and well-maintained communal outdoor areas, sometimes set in scenic countryside. Many retirement villages are custom designed and much thought and attention is given to the grounds that surround it.
The village environs are maintained by the village operator and so should be clean and litter-free with landscaped gardens and manicured green spaces. Pathways should be wide and smooth with plenty of seating so you can make the most of your surroundings.
2. A maintenance-free life
If you are still living in your longstanding family home long after the kids have flown the nest you may find it is simply too big for your needs. For example, paying to heat a three- or four-bedroom house when there are only one or two people living in it on a permanent basis may seem uneconomical. And maintaining a larger home, as well as perhaps a mature garden, can be take up a lot of time that you might prefer to spend with friends and family or pursuing other activities.
Moving into a new, well-equipped apartment in a retirement village may be just what you are looking for. The costs of running the property are likely to be lower and help dealing with maintenance issues will be readily available.
Moving house in retirement used to be called ‘downsizing’ but think of it instead as ‘right-sizing’ and finding a home that is ideal for you. For example, moving from a two bedroom house to a two bedroom apartment might make the world of difference.
What are the different types of retirement accommodation?
3. You’re still on the property ladder
In comparison to moving into a residential care home and selling your house to cover future costs, buying a property in a retirement village means you will still own your own home. This means you will benefit from future house-price growth, as well as retain an asset that you can pass on to your family in your Will.
Downsizing from a large property to a retirement flat may also free up a considerable sum of capital which can be used for a variety of purposes, from paying for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to providing financial assistance to family members.
It can be tempting to stay where you are until you are forced to make a decision about moving. Whether this is due to mobility issues, bereavement, care requirements or other changes in circumstances, moving home once you actually need to can make the process more difficult or stressful.
Moving to a retirement village that has a full range of services enables you to relax, mindful that any future day-to-day aspects can be handled easily and without any upheaval.
One of the attractive things about retirement villages is that they are likely to be ready for you to move in straight away with nothing needing to be done. They may be newly or recently built and you may very well be the first person to occupy the flat, apartment or house, so the decorating, flooring, appliances and fittings are all brand new.
If you have been in your current home for a while, there are bound to be things that need attention and it is easy to ‘make do’ rather than face the upheaval of fitting a new bathroom or getting the staircase painted. Faced with a whole-house renovation, it is not surprising that the lure of a modern home is so appealing.
4. You can still entertain friends and family
Living in a retirement village gives you a great opportunity to stay as independent as possible.
You will remain responsible for your own home, and of course you will be able to come and go as you please, as well as entertain guests on prolonged visits if you wish. Choosing an apartment with a spare room for family and friends means they can visit whenever they like. Even if you don't have a spare room it's unlikely to be a problem as some retirement villages have a guest suite where children and grandchildren can stay.
If you're hosting a get-together, there may even be no need to cook if you can head out to the village's dining room or restaurant.
5. Access to help on your own terms
One of the biggest attractions of a retirement village is the ability to obtain help whenever you need it. This could be anything from a helping hand when it comes to shopping, to the administration of medication. The best villages will have on-site emergency care that is available 24 hours a day.
Retirement villages are there to make your life easier on every level so you don’t have to worry about ‘what ifs’. These villages aim to provide a wide range of services, from concierge duties, such as signing for parcels while you are away, to assistance with personal care.
Some villages can even offer high levels of medical and domestic support so you don’t need a Plan B or to contemplate alternative arrangements further down the line, such as having to move to a care home.
This can be particularly useful during surgery recovery.
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6. There's plenty to do
Your retirement village is likely to have someone who coordinates and arranges events and activities. These can take place within the village or further afield and can be part of a larger, ongoing programme or a one-off, special event.
Many retirement villages are close to towns, so getting to larger shops and amenities is no problem. There may even be a car and driver available for out-of-village trips.
Read our guide to choosing a retirement village
7. There's excellent security
A retirement village is a safe and secure place to live, with someone always on hand to assist in emergencies. This provides great peace of mind not just when you are living in the village, but also when you are away visiting family members and friends, or on holiday.
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8. There's a great sense of community
If you live in a large town or city, friends, activities and amenities can be quite a distance away making life seem quite disjointed.
In a retirement village location, you know that those around you are in a similar situation. Your pace of life may match that of your neighbours, plus there may well be many interests and hobbies you share. There are likely to be places to mingle with other village residents, such as restaurants, libraries and gardens and many activities and events to attend if you wish.
In your retirement village you are likely to meet a large number of like-minded people who share your interests. The social side of village life is extremely important, and there are a wide range of events and groups to cater for all interests.
The best retirement villages recognise the importance of fostering a real sense of community and are a pleasure to live in.
9. You can stay as a couple
A retirement village is one option for care in later life that ensures couples can remain living together.
With residential care homes, unless both partners need to go into care at the same time and their requirements are very similar, this cannot always be possible.
And just because there are events, activities, trips and classes taking place in your village, it does not mean you have to participate in all, or even any, of them. You and your partner can find your own pace of life or level of interaction. You can come and go as you please, do as you wish, or carry on living your life as you want to.
10. Less reliance on your car or public transport
While residents in retirement villages are free to come and go as they please, the fact they have so many amenities on their doorsteps means they often no longer have any great need to drive or use public transport, at least on a regular basis.
You may also find that your retirement village offers complimentary or low-cost use of a car with a driver for any short trips you do need to make.
Considering retirement village living? Ask yourself these questions first
When you are ready to start visiting retirement villages, try to visit as many as you can so you get a good sense of what is on offer.
You will want to get as much information as possible when you visit, so take along this checklist of key questions to ask – and make a note of the answers too.
The best people to talk to are the residents, so make sure you get to chat with as many as you can to get an overall impression of the accommodation and amenities.
- Are the village properties offered on a leasehold or rental basis?
- What is included in the service or maintenance charges?
- How often do any charges need to be paid?
- How often are these charges likely to be increased?
- What fees are payable on leaving the property?
- Is the reservation fee refundable should I decide not to purchase or rent the property?
- How is the village managed?
- Does the village have a residents’ committee?
- How are the communal areas, grounds and properties maintained?
- Does the village have a member of staff on site 24 hours a day?
- Is there a nurse on duty?
- Is there an emergency call button or personal alarm system in each property?
- What levels of help and assistance are available to residents?
- What security measures are in place?
- Can family and friends come to stay?
- Are pets allowed?
- Is any transport provided?
- Does the village arrange any social events and activities?
- What does the local area have to offer in the way of services and leisure?
- Are there any on-site catering services?
- Can help within the home be arranged?
- Is there sufficient car parking?
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