Deciding how and when to retire is one of the biggest decisions of our lives.
What does retirement look like for you?
Do you have a plan for exploring new interests and learning new skills, catching up with old friends and making new ones, or travel?
These are big considerations so it’s important to start planning early – research shows those who start planning at least two years before the big day have a happier retirement.
A large part of this decision is choosing where you would like to live. Will you stay in the family home or downsize to a retirement village?
We gathered insights from retirees suggesting you take the following factors into account when you weigh up your options.
• Lifestyle: What lifestyle do you want in retirement? Do you imagine a community connected through shared facilities and social activities or isolation? Andrew Plant at The Village Yeronga describes, “The lifestyle here is just fantastic, you don’t have to drive to the gym, so there’s no excuse, and its open 24 hours a day. The heated swimming pool is open 24 hours a day and your grandchildren can do laps with you”. To get a feel for the lifestyle attend a resident’s expo day and talk to retirees that live in a village.
• Maintenance: Do you want to renovate your family home or live somewhere smaller where there is less maintenance? Downsizing gives you time to follow your interests and hobbies or travel instead of mowing lawns and upkeep of a large home. With less daily chores you have more time to relax and do what you enjoy.
• Location: Our retirees unanimously advised “Location, location, location” search for the right location; do you want to be closer to family, near the big hospitals, near parklands or stay in the community you love? Consider where additional care if needed in the future is located, ideally it will be very close to your independent living.
• Social: Would you like easy access to fellowship and friendships through social events, happy hours, choir, craft, cards, and many more activities? Leslie Turner juggles gym, aqua aerobics, yoga and tai chi classes every week, as well as regular mah-jong games, along with trips to the theatre and catching up with lifelong friends outside The Village Redcliffe.
• Financial: Downsizing to a village can give your finances a boost and free up your money for travel, topping up your super or a new car. Look for retirement villages that price their homes affordable and who defer their profit until you sell. Beware of parks who charge you their profit upfront in the purchase price. Villages that defer their profit have a vested interest in keeping the village as great as it looks now.
• Ongoing fees: How do you protect yourself against unknown fees? State Government legislation protects you in retirement villages against fees being changed without your knowledge. Beware of retirement communities that do not offer you legislative protection against rising fees.
• Facilities: Do you want to feel you are on a holiday all year? “It’s not a retirement village it’s a resort,” describes Ann Warren at The Village Yeronga.
“Living at The Village is just like a holiday. We’re that busy – we go to the gym, play bowls, play darts, and go on bus trips. I’ve got to have a diary to make time to go fishing! It’s shocking, I tell you!” laughs Ron Hobman.
• Family: How do you involve your family? What will the family think? “Our son and daughter think moving into The Village is the best thing to happen to us. They think we’re so much more alive now, and are really enjoying our life more,’’ laughs Ron, who used to work in paint manufacturing and selling truck accessories.
• Safety: Would you like to lock up and travel? A community where everyone looks out for each other and you can lock up and go away knowing your home is safe and secure is what most retirees are searching for. Leslie at The Village Redcliffe explains, “You have neighbours close by who care about you and your home”.
• Community: Do you want to downsize to a block of units or be part of a community? A Harvard study found people who are socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, physically healthier and live longer than those who are not as well connected.
“A block of units has nothing and you don’t know who is in the flat next to you,” Andrew from The Village Yeronga continued. In the village, you will know everyone is a similar age and is an owner just like you.
Ultimately, retirement is a personal decision. Take your time, do lots of research, tour villages to discover your options, meet people who live in a village and ask the salesperson all of your questions until you know what retirement looks like for you. The rest of your life depends on it.