One of the biggest considerations as you approach or enter retirement is deciding where you’ll live.
While many older Australians opt to stay in the family home, a growing number are choosing to downsize to a smaller residence in a lifestyle or retirement village.
If you’ve decided to make the move to an over-55s community, there are so many options that finding the right fit can be a challenge. To simplify things, we’ve broken down the process into 5 easy steps that will help you find the perfect place to retire.
1. Dream Up a Wish List
Start by spending some time dreaming up all the features and facilities you’d love your new home to have. Make a big list of everything you can think of, then sort your list into must-haves and would-likes. Include things on your list that relate to the home itself, such as air-conditioning or a private fenced yard, plus the shared facilities you’d like to have access to, like an indoor pool or gymnasium.
Also, think about the location of the village and the essential services you need close by such as supermarkets and hospitals. Plus, you may choose to create an extra list of things you don’t want, like steps or high-density accommodation. Your lists will be a great help when it comes time to narrow down the choices, so be sure to take the time you need to make it as accurate and complete as possible.
2. Research the Options
Next, start looking around for possible options. You can do this online from the comfort of your armchair, or by getting out and about and visiting villages in your location of choice. Ask friends or relatives for recommendations too.
Make initial enquiries and collect brochures, then talk to the managers and arrange a tour if possible. Aim to gather as much information as you can regarding the type of accommodation, facilities and location. Make notes regarding your thoughts about each village as well as your gut feeling. Be honest and include lots of details – the more the better, as it will make step three easier.
3. Make a Shortlist
Now it’s time to narrow your list down to a handful of potential villages. Begin by eliminating any villages that don’t have your must-have items. Then from those that are left, pick out your favourites. These could be the villages that ticked lots of would-like boxes or those that you have a good feeling about.
Once you’ve got your shortlist, arrange a tour of each village to take a closer look. Go prepared with any lingering questions, meet with the managers and if possible, talk to residents too. Visit the facilities, walk the grounds and spend some time in the local community. Make sure you leave with all the necessary paperwork regarding contracts, rules and fees, so you are ready to make an informed decision.
4. Seek Expert Advice
There’s a good chance that by now you may have narrowed your list down further, to one or two preferred options. At this point, it’s essential that you seek expert legal advice regarding the contract.
No matter how perfect a village is, if you feel restricted by the terms of contract or ripped off by the fees, you’ll never be happy. Choose a financial advisor who understands the ins and outs of retirement village contracts to ensure you get the best advice, and always talk to your family and friends before you make your final decision.
5. Be Comfortable with Your Choice
After following the above steps, you should now have all the information you need to make an informed decision, but don’t feel pressured to rush into anything. Give yourself the time and space you need to weigh it all up, so you can be 100% comfortable with your final choice.
At the end of the day, your new retirement or lifestyle village home needs to be a good fit in three key ways – it must meet your needs physically, financially, and mentally.
Your village of choice should include all your must-have (and a few of the would-like) features and facilities. It must also be affordable, with no nasty and expensive surprises in the way of unexpected fees. But most importantly, it must be somewhere that you feel comfortable enough in to call home.
Over to You
Do you have a question about lifestyle village living? We’d love to hear from you!
Want to know more about deferred management fees and other traps related to lifestyle villages? Download our FREE guide, 20 Questions You Must Ask BEFORE Choosing a Village.