What to expect from a retirement village
Retirement villages (or retirement homes) 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.
Retirement villages or sheltered accommodation?
The main difference is that retirement villages generally have more enhanced facilities and, as a consequence, are often more costly. There can also be limits to how much care someone needs when living in retirement village accommodation. However, it’s worth investigating all the options within retirement villages as some include sheltered-style accommodation.
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’re thinking about a retirement home make sure that it offers the care and support you require, and think about future care needs if possible.
The majority of properties in retirement villages are designed for independent living, but some offer care and support for those that need it.
The pros 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: the community aspect of retirement villages 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 cons of retirement villages
- Limited medical care: not all retirement villages offer options for nursing or medical care.
- Cost: you pay more for luxury, and there can be some hidden costs and fees that are worth knowing about before buying.
- 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.
Top 10 considerations when researching retirement properties
If you’re researching retirement villages, ask yourself the following questions when you visit to help decide if it’s the right move for you.
How do property prices compare with sheltered housing or other similar-sized properties in your area?
Can you afford to buy privately? Our article on the hidden costs of retirement homes talks you through some of the unexpected costs you need to consider.
What is the age limit (for example, some retirement villages have a lower age limit of 55 years, others say you need to be over 60 years old). If you’re planning to move with your partner, do you both qualify?
If you have pets, can you take them? Not all retirement developments will allow animals.
What are the service charges? This could make quite a difference to what you pay.
Which bills are included? How much extra will you have to pay for the bills that aren’t included?
Is there space to keep a car if you have one?
What facilities and activities are there on offer? Are these included in the cost?
Is there a guest suite or somewhere for friends and family to stay when they visit? How much does this cost?
Where is the village? Is it close to family and friends and how easy would it be to get to/from?
Moving to a retirement village might mean that you're downsizing and maybe also moving to another area. Download our downsizing checklists for ideas about what to consider.
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