If you’re approaching retirement, one of the biggest choices you’ll be faced with is deciding where to live.
For many, it comes down to staying in the family home or downsizing to a retirement community. So, how can you discover which is the right choice for you?
Your situation is unique, and there’s no ideal fit for all. Retirement communities are perfect for some, while independent living is best for others. To help you weigh up your options, here are some pros and cons of living in a retirement community.
The Pros of Retirement Community Living
Lifestyle: Over-55 communities offer an easy lifestyle where you can be as active and social as you choose. Downsizing frees up more time to pursue your interests and you’re connected to your community through shared facilities and activities.
Maintenance: A smaller home means less cleaning and maintenance. With less daily chores you have more time to relax and do what you enjoy.
Social: With easy access to social events and activities, you can get out and about as often as you like. The shared facilities also provide a way to meet your neighbours and make new friends.
Financial: Downsizing can give your finances a boost and free up your money for travel, topping up your super or any other activity you choose. Plus, if your village has low ongoing fees, your living costs may also be less.
Facilities: Having access to facilities like a gymnasium and pool is a definite plus, as it helps you stay active. A communal recreation room is also a great place to socialise and relax, without the need to leave the comfort of your neighbourhood.
Safety: Retirement communities have on-site managers and are often gated, which provides a sense of security. You have neighbours close by, which gives you confidence to lock up and leave when you want to travel. The homes and facilities are also built to be suitable for retirees, which means less steps and hazards to navigate.
Community: Being part of a community brings a real sense of well-being, especially as you get older. Connecting with others of a similar age is a key benefit of over-55s villages.
The Cons of Retirement Community Living
Contracts: After the scandal of 2017, you may be wary of retirement village contracts. There are many different types of contracts, some are fair, but many are complex and include unexpected fees. Always seek professional advice before signing anything so you’re 100% sure it’s a good fit for your circumstances.
Independence: If you prefer your own company, space and privacy, the thought of living in a retirement community may not appeal. Staying in the family home can be a good option if you have the support of family and friends to care for yourself and your home as you age.
Fees: Like contracts, fees in retirement communities can be fair, but some are excessive. When comparing fees, it’s important to look at what you’ll pay upfront, as an ongoing contribution, and when your home is sold.
Space: While having a smaller home and yard means less cleaning and maintenance, it does have its downside. If you like to entertain or are a keen gardener look for a village home with its own fenced allotment, so you can still nurture a small garden and host a backyard bbq.
Change: Change can be wonderful, but it’s often daunting! It can take time to adjust when you move at any stage of life, but it’s particularly difficult as you get older and leave behind a familiar home and community.
Is a Retirement Community Right for You?
Deciding where to live in retirement is one of life’s tough choices – and like most things, there are pros and cons to each option.
When comparing, be thorough in your research. Visit potential retirement communities to see the homes and facilities, meet the managers and residents, and get an idea of the type of contract and fees that apply. If you’re considering staying put, get quotes for any work you need done to make your home suitable to live in as you age, and for any ongoing services you might require for maintenance or care.
At the end of the day, only you can decide what is best – so be clear on your options and priorities and trust your instincts!
Over to You
Do you have a pro or con to retirement community living you’d like to add? We’d love to hear your questions and comments – simply post them below.
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.