This you need to know before choosing a retirement village

Are you or is someone you love thinking of moving to a retirement village? Or just want to be prepared went the time is right? Here is a handy checklist to help assess and compare how well a village will suit your needs. 

Did you know? Australia has over 2,200 retirement villages currently housing around 5.7% of the over 65 population and this number is growing.

What is the allure of retirement living?
There are two main reasons people are excited about moving to a village.

Reason 1. Many are attracted to the combination of independent living with the benefits of communal facilities and services to make life more enjoyable, comfortable and secure.

Reason 2. Retirement village living can also relieve you of the hassle and responsibility of maintaining your own home, which can be major issues health-wise and financially.

Beyond that the big question to ask is how do you weigh up the pros and cons of village life? What are your most important needs and how do you go about choosing the village that will best suit you? 

Here are a few pointers to help get you started:

Location, location, location
Location is a critical factor in making the right choice for your needs and lifestyle. Thinking of relocating to a village a long way from your current residence? If it is further than an hours drive from where you are currently living then consider how this will impact your current connections and access to your family, friends and activities. Another important issue is the village’s proximity to shops, health services and communal or social activities, such as clubs and sporting facilities. Ask about access to public transport and the availability of level terrain for walking or mobility scooters. If you are planning on keeping one or two cars then ask how far your car spaces will be from your front door.

Quality facilities 
Within the village itself it pays to take a good look at design and maintenance of the units and communal areas, as well as how well the village is run. All of these issues may take some time actually spent looking around the village to properly assess, but you’ll be glad you did.

Some issues to consider are:

  1. Are the staff friendly and inviting?
  2. Are general surrounds clean and in good repair?
  3. Are the gardens areas appealing and well maintained?
  4. Does the layout of units and common areas provide privacy, foster community and a create pleasant atmosphere? 

Apart from general appearance and liveability issues, ensure you find out about factors that relate to your quality of life.

For example:

  1. What are the village’s rules about pets?
  2. What communal dining facilities are offered?
  3. How well does the village cater for visiting family and friends?
  4. Does the village provide group activities, such as excursions, concerts and religious services?
  5. Are there restrictions on visitor access and are there areas that are conducive to family gatherings?
  6. Does the village offer recreational activities such as a library, bar, café, sporting facilities, social programs and special interest groups? 

Speak to ‘insiders’
One of the best ways to gauge the merits of a village is to simply ask those who live there. It can be a revealing exercise. Ask them to be honest about the best and worst features. Generally speaking, people love to give their opinions and it will give you a real insight into the ‘feel’ of the village and issues that may not be so apparent on the surface.

Financial and legal issues
Getting down to the nitty gritty of financial and legal aspects can be daunting, but it is essential that you come to grips with these issues before committing. Ask questions and ask to be provided with any contracts and documentation to allow an objective assessment. This should include detailed information on fees – both at the outset and in the future.

There are different types of contracts that may apply, including strata title, leasehold and rental. The fee structures can also vary – especially in relation to future disposal of the unit if you decide to move out or when you or your partner passes on.

Of course you don’t have to become an expert in these issues yourself. The complexity involved makes it essential to engage some legal advice and financial advice to gain an objective assessment of the commitments you are making.

Security and service
One of the major attractions of village lifestyle is the security living assistance that they can provide, but don’t take anything for granted. Ask questions about practical issues so that you can be confident of what is actually provided and what is not. 

This can include:

  1. Does a residents committee exist and how does is interact with management?
  2. Access to village management and procedures for making enquiries and complaints
  3. What assistance is provided by the village for health and maintenance emergencies? 
  4. What are the security arrangements, such as patrols, cameras and emergency procedures?
  5. Are any in-home services available, such as cleaning, cooking and personal care? If not provided by the village management, do they have a relationship with external providers? 

Making a sound decision for long term peace of mind
Moving to a retirement village is a big step, but it can bring significant lifestyle improvement and many extra dimensions you may not initially expect to your life such as new friends, access to fantastic resort style facilities and a general sense of security. It pays to take the time to do your research and engage professional advice to ensure a smooth and worry free transition.

What do you think are the most important qualities for a retirement village to have? Join our conversation below...