Figuring out what type of retirement accommodation is right for you, or for your relatives, can be a stressful process. It's a big decision, and everyone feels the need to get it right, as you or a family member will hopefully be spending a happy retirement there. Of course there are a range of options out there including private and state nursing homes, as well as sheltered housing and assisted living, but one option often goes unnoticed: Retirement villages.
What is a Retirement Village?
A retirement village is a development where residents can stay in an apartment or house for the remainder of their retirement, whilst enjoying various facilities and amenities. Each village is comprised of retired individuals and couples, and the community is based entirely around meeting their needs.
These projects are normally privately developed, such as Richmond Bede Village which is partnered with Bupa. Retirement villages are a great option for those wishing to maintain a level of independence while having the facilities nearby to cater for any needs or requirements within reason.
Is a Retirement Village Right For Me or My Relative?
Retirement villages will not be perfect for everyone, and as such you should take into account the following considerations:
1. Health Needs: If health issues are a real concern, then even though retirement villages tend to offer 24/7 emergency medical services, they may not provide the level of attentive care which can be found in a nursing home. This varies from village to village, some actually provide nursing home accommodation on site, and so this must be clarified before any agreement is made.
2. Independence: Retirement villages are perfectly suited for those who can maintain a level of independence and mobility. While most are disabled friendly, it is important to take this into consideration before committing financially. This shouldn't put you off if mobility is an issue as, again, this will vary depending on the village. Just make sure you keep it in mind so there are no nasty surprises.
3. Cost & Ownership: There is no easy way to get around this, retirement villages are expensive - akin to purchasing a home. Prices vary, but most villages are comprised of leasehold properties. This means that there are restraints in terms of what you can do with your home and fees involved when selling, including ensuring that the tenants are retired.
4. Location: This is very important. While there are now a good number of retirement villages available around the UK, you might not be able to find one near to where you are now. If you have family and friends nearby, you should think this over carefully. Will you feel comfortable at another location? How will it affect you and your family? Will you feel isolated at all? These are considerations which should not be rushed.
How to Choose a Retirement Village
Still thinking about a retirement village? Then let's go through some of the more specific aspects you should think about when finding a retirement village that's right for you:
• Take a look at the type of lifestyle offered by specific retirement villages. Companies differ in terms of the atmosphere they are trying to create. Quiet? Lively? Which would you prefer?
• How much does a village promote community? Are there community groups? Do they try to help you feel part of something bigger?
• What are the apartments or houses provided like? You'll want to visit them before making any commitment. How much privacy are you afforded? Will you have a garden? How are the properties for blocking out noise? What are the heating bills like? All of these questions should be answered.
• Familiarise yourself with any terms, conditions, or guidelines. What is being asked of you while there?
• Any legal matters at all need to be as clear as day. What type of lease is it? What are the financial implications? What happens if you need to move? Is it a lease for life? Always get independent legal advice, never just trust what a company selling a service claims. Get everything verified.
• Likewise, ensure that you get independent financial advice on making a purchase. When visiting a village, don't be talked into signing anything without a full independent consultation.
These are just some of the issues to take into consideration when appraising a retirement village. It's a big decision both financially and emotionally, so don't rush into it. Retirement villages can be a great option, and, as long as you prioritise the above, then you should be able to find somewhere fantastic to spend your retirement years.