With so many options to choose from when it comes to retirement living, finding the perfect home for you can feel overwhelming.
However, if you’ve decided to downsize from your family home, you’ve already had practice making big decisions about your next life stage.
As you’ve probably discovered, the key is to be thorough and systematic. Yes, there’s room for some gut instinct – strong intuition, good or bad, about a place that can serve you well – but careful consideration is what’s called for when choosing the right retirement village for you.
Here are three essential questions to ask yourself when making the decision.
1. What kind of environment do I want to live in?
Do you like the ocean? Or are you more of a country person? Is an urban setting your ideal setup, or are you ready for landscape views?
Other considerations, such as proximity to family or medical services, may constrain your options. Having a preference for the kind of area and amenities you want to live close to can be incredibly helpful in narrowing down your options.
There is a growing trend towards the construction of vertical retirement villages as more retirees reject the ‘retiring to the suburbs’ trope, favouring a life close to bustling centres with easy access to restaurants, galleries and other cultural and entertainment venues. A city based high-rise with pools, gyms and salons might be a long way from the more traditional image of rows of cottages on a quiet suburban street, but it could be exactly what you’re looking for.
Suppose country tranquillity or a beach lifestyle is more your cup of tea. In that case, you have many options, with many of Australia’s retirement villages in scenic landscapes.
2. What do you want to spend your time doing in retirement?
Do you picture your retirement filled with activities? Are sports and recreation top of your list? Or do you want somewhere to potter quietly in a garden or read a book in your backyard? Are you keen to make new connections, or are you happy to keep your own company? Do you want to spend plenty of time outside the retirement village, or would you prefer to stay put?
You’ll need to ponder these considerations when choosing the right retirement village for you. If you have a particular hobby, find somewhere that will enable you to nurture it. For example, if swimming is an important part of your daily routine, you’ll want somewhere with a pool or close to a beach. If gardening makes you happy, focus on a retirement village with homes that have private gardens or a village that has a communal garden. If getting out and about keeps you engaged, a village that offers craft groups, Tai Chi, golf simulators, planned trips, wine tastings, movie clubs and gallery visits will suit you best.
Talking to other residents is a useful way to get a picture of the retirement village. Residents have a clear picture of what living in a village is and may be happy to share a sense of how social an environment it is, what kinds of activities are better attended and what expectations, if any, there might be for residents to participate.
3. What are the costs and can I afford them?
Costs are a significant consideration when choosing a retirement village. It’s worth getting some expert advice from your lawyer or accountant. Moving to a retirement village is quite different from buying a regular home, with the contracts, rules and regulations differing in each state and from village to village.
Did you know? Aveo changed the retirement community market by creating three easy to understand contracts.
Some costs you’ll need to be on top of include the following:
- Entry fee.
- Service fees – these are ongoing fees that usually cover things such as facilities maintenance, council rates, utilities and building insurance.
- Exit fee or deferred management fee – over half of retirement villages base their exit fees on the purchase price. About one third base their exit fee on the sale price.
Exit fees can be one of the more confusing aspects of a retirement village contract, so spend the time making sure you’ve understood precisely what your obligations are and how much your exit fee will be when you decide to leave.
An accountant can also help you anticipate the potential impact of downsizing on your tax position and Aged Pension entitlement. For instance, an increase in your assets upon selling your old house could cause a reduction in your Aged Pension.
And then there are the other costs associated with downsizing, which could include organising removalists, storage or professional relocation services, getting the house professionally cleaned, painted and ensuring any little niggles are attended to.
While choosing the right retirement village is a big deal, it’s worth spending time and effort on making a choice that will ensure you can get the most out of your retirement so you can focus on living well after all the hard work has been done.