Some pointers to help you weigh up your living options
So, you’ve made the decision to move into a retirement village. You’ve done a little research into how retirement villages work, the cost of living in one, perhaps even looked through a few online. It’s understandable if you may also be feeling just a bit overwhelmed with all the information and choices available to you.
Every retirement village will have its good, great, even outstanding features. What matters, is do they provide you with what you really want?
Fortunately, there is a simple way to decide what’s important to you. Make a list! You may have done this when you bought your first home, or decided on which car to buy, or where to take the family on holidays. If you didn’t write an actual list, then you certainly would have made a mental one.
Your list is probably made up of four categories:
- I absolutely must have
- I would like to have
- I don’t really care if it has
- It absolutely must not have
Everyone’s needs differ. If you’re making the move to retirement on your own, then you only have yourself to consider. If it’s with your spouse, then no matter whether you’ve been married and living in the same house for 50 years, it’s still a great exercise to discuss what you want moving forward into retirement.
A two car garage may have been an ‘absolute must have’ before, but you may find it’s a ‘don’t really care’ now. A swimming pool may not have been a high priority in your own home, but you’d love to be able to enjoy one now, especially if someone else is maintaining it! So a pool becomes a ‘like to have.’
You get the idea!
Before you fill in the blanks on the above list, start by thinking about all the features of various retirement villages. Here are a few to get you started.
Your preferred retirement accommodation type
The type of home you want to live in should be one of the first decisions you’ll make. Would you prefer to live in a villa, a unit or a duplex? What about townhouses or apartments? What about height; would you prefer lowset, single storey, mid-rise or high-rise? Is assisted living a ‘must have?’ Perhaps a serviced apartment would be a ‘like to have.’
When you’re thinking about this subject, remember to think ahead to how your needs may change in the future.
The features of your new home
What’s most important to you in terms of the design, layout, fixtures and fittings of your home? Do you want a new home that is modern and stylish, or a more established unit? What about air conditioning and security screens and doors?
Wheelchair access and mobility devices could be an absolute ‘must have’. Is a well-appointed kitchen important, or do you plan to mostly dine out? If you’re downsizing you may be grateful for a low maintenance yard, and if you want to make more time for cooking, you might ‘like to have’ access to a veggie patch.
The best location for your lifestyle
Location will obviously play a huge role in your decision, with many factors to consider such as proximity to your family and friends. You may want to move somewhere more quiet and rural, or you might like being close to a large shopping complex with restaurants, cinemas and health services. And if you’re looking forward to selling the car, easy access to public transport will be another consideration high up the list.
The size of a retirement village
One thing you might not have thought about is the size of the various retirement living options. Yet you’ll know what works best for you – whether that’s a small, close-knit village feel; a larger complex that offers you more freedom, facilities and opportunities; or the perfect blend of both.
Fortunately retirement villages offer both and many sizes in between. If it’s a ‘must have’ for your village to include a tennis court, swimming pool, bowling green, library and cinema, then you’re unlikely to find that in a tiny village with under 50 units.
You should also ask about future expansion plans, to find out whether your ‘quaint’ little village may have plans for future redevelopment.
The rules of the village
Rules are in place for a reason – to maintain a peaceful, comfortable and enjoyable living environment for all residents, staff and visitors. If you’re moving straight from your family home however, they can take a bit of getting used to.
Make a list of your ‘must haves’ and ‘must not haves’ around things like visitors (short term and long term) smoking, pets and maintenance. You’ll find villages vary greatly in these and other areas, so it’s best to know what will and won’t work for you.
Management of the retirement village
It may not be of interest to you whether your village is owned by a large company, a private commercial business, or run by a charity. What you do want to know though, is how well it is run.
Is it important to you that the village has on-site staff, and whether they are available seven days a week or only within specific hours? Management may start out on your ‘don’t really care’ list, but once you’ve experienced great management (or dreadful management) the good ones will quickly become a ‘must have.’
Included services and support
Naturally, each retirement village will differ greatly in terms of what you’re paying for in your fees, and what you’ll have to pay for over and above. Give a thought to things such as maintenance in and around your home, cleaning and maintenance of shared spaces, payment of council rates and utilities, home cleaning, and in-home care and support.
Some of these of course are ‘must-haves’ and others will be optional. Many are non-negotiable too, so be prepared with your list of what’s important to you. It may be ‘nice to have’ an on-site doctor, physiotherapist or massage therapist. On the other hand, it may not matter to you if there’s Tai Chi by the pool, a village bus to take you shopping or a hairdresser on-site.
Your ideal facilities
Retirement villages have certainly grown more resort-like, with a long list of facilities that will have you out-and-about more than you’re at home. Here’s where your list kicks in, as some things will be high priority and others won’t matter that much, if at all.
Where on your list would you place access to a swimming pool, tennis court, bowling green and gym? What about arts and crafts, computer facilities, a BBQ area, cinema or library? It may be great to have a children’s playground for when your grandchildren visit, or a private function area to entertain family and friends.
Things beyond measure
Lastly, there are the intangibles; those things that are difficult to measure. For example, what kind of people do you want to connect with, live near, and share fun times with? What would the community spirit of your ideal village feel like?
What are your expectations of staff and management it terms of how you are treated? Do you have an opportunity to get involved in residents’ committees? Do you want a feeling of peace and tranquillity or vibrancy and excitement... or a little of both?
See for yourself how Renaissance Victoria Point stacks up
Moving from your family home into your retirement living is a big transition – yet it can be straightforward and enjoyable. As much as your list will help you get clear on what’s important, it’s also good to remain flexible where you can. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you discover along the way.
To find out how many of your ‘must haves’ feature at Renaissance Retirement Living, we invite you to visit us for yourself.
Our Information Days are a wonderful introduction to the Renaissance lifestyle, in just the sort of relaxed and welcoming environment you’ll experience when you choose to move in.
We’ll help you find the information you need to make the right decision for your needs.
Call Renaissance today on (07) 3820 7700 to find out more about the lifestyle benefits of our outstanding retirement living.