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Retirement villages (or retirement communities) are large developments built especially for older people. They usually have at least 100 properties of different types – houses, bungalows and apartments – and are often located in beautiful rural settings.

Most retirement villages promote a luxury lifestyle, offering a variety of leisure facilities, such as clubhouses, swimming pools, spas, restaurants and bars, plus a range of social activities. Retirement villages are becoming increasingly popular with people seeking retirement housing in the UK. 

However, senior living communities might not be suitable for everyone. On this page you can find information about them, including possible benefits and drawbacks.

Do retirement villages offer care and support?

The majority of properties in retirement villages are designed for independent living, but some offer care and support for those that need it. This might be in assisted living apartments or onsite care services that can provide home help or personal care. Some schemes have care homes on site, should people require more care in the future.

If you, or a relative, are thinking about a retirement community make sure that it offers the care and support that you require, and think about future care needs if possible.

The benefits of retirement villages

  • Facilities: most have excellent social and leisure facilities.
  • Freedom: the freedom to live independently in your own home.  
  • Staying together: the opportunity to stay with your partner, who may have different care needs.
  • Making friends: opportunities to socialise with other residents of a similar age.
  • Enjoyment of communal areas: with no responsibility to maintain gardens or facilities.
  • No hassles with repairs or maintenance: these are usually dealt with by the scheme provider.
  • Safety and security: may feel safer than living alone.
  • Guest suites: most villages have apartments available for friends and family to rent when they come to visit.
  • Future care: some offer home help and personal care or even on-site care homes.

The drawbacks of retirement villages

  • Limited medical care: not all retirement villages offer options for nursing or medical care.
  • Cost: you pay more for luxury.
  • Private funding: most retirement village properties must be bought or rented privately and are not eligible for public funding.
  • Reduced space: if residents are downsizing from a larger property, there may not be space for all their possessions and furniture.
  • Service charges: most retirement villages charge monthly or annual fees for maintaining the communal areas and providing facilities. These can be hefty so make sure you know what they are before signing up.
  • Lack of diversity: some people might not want to live in a development exclusively for older people.

More information

Page first published: September 2015
Next review due: May 2019