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Planning Retirement Online

What Are They?

 As we saw on the opening page to this Guide, there are a number of different types of accommodation for retired people who wish to, or have to, move into some form of housing that provides an element of security and care. Retirement villages are one of the options and they are becoming increasingly popular since the concept has spread from America.

So what exactly are they? Retirement villages, in fact, can be quite difficult to define. Generally, they are developments that include a variety of types of property such as houses, cottages, bungalows and apartments and that usually have some sort of community facilities for the residents to use. People buy the property, either freehold or on a lease, so it means that you can still be in the property market. They are usually for the over 55s, although sometimes there is a different minimum age.

They may include on-site medical and care facilities as well as maintenance staff, cleaning, laundry and garden maintenance services. They can, therefore, provide everything that people may want and need as they get older. It may be that, for those who require a little more care, there are serviced apartments with a cleaner coming in on a regular basis and meals being delivered. So generally they will provide a home that brings with it the rights, security and privacy of having your own front door, access to flexible care and support should it be needed and social support networks  that promote independence, social connection and wellbeing. However, not every village offers the same services, so it is important to decide what you need and then try to find a village that suits those needs.

Product DetailsSome of the housing will be specifically designed for older people with, for example, plugs usually placed higher on the wall, eliminating the need to bend down. There will also be rails in the bathroom for the bath and the toilet. If it's a house that you're looking for, the bedroom will often be on the ground floor to minimise the need to go up stairs. The accommodation will be efficiently heated so that it is both comfortable and relatively cheap to heat. Being in a village environment, there will often be classes and groups in a wide range of activities that will encourage people to get together if they want to. Very often there will be outings and trips arranged, too, so it is easy to meet people and make new friends if you want to.

Residents are free to have guests and in some villages there is guest accommodation that can be booked so there is no problem with people coming to stay.

On the other hand, some people feel that there is a loss of personal space because very few properties have their own garden. On the other hand, many are set in large grounds so it may be that the loss of a personal garden is offset by the communal areas. Service charges are also seen as a problem and, obviously, the more facilities that are provided the higher will be those charges. However, that is true of any development and many people feel that the extra security that retirement villages bring is worth the charges. However, they are clearly something that has to be factored in when we are choosing a retirement village.

Guide to Retirement Villages links

To get the feel for retirement villages and what they offer, go to the Retirement Villages website. You can follow the links through 'Our Villages' and 'Current Villages' where you will see a list of their retirement villages. Click on a few of them to see what they offer. You will see that there is a core element, such as a central community facility that offers a range of facilities, but there are differences, too. For example, one of them offers allotments for keen gardeners, so you need to be sure about what it is you want and then choose accordingly. In another there is a croquet lawn and a village pond as well as a village hall, snooker room, restaurant, bar and library.

You will probably heard of McCarthy and Stone, one of the best-known builders of retirement property in the UK, so it would be remiss not to mention them. Go to their website and you will see that they build developments of apartments which are not, strictly speaking, retirement villages. However, in many aspects they are very similar in that there will usually be a central communal area for all residents, a house manager and so on. However, the opportunity for communal activities such as classes and trips will be very often be more limited than in a retirement village.

Now click on the links to read the rest of the Guide to Retirement Villages in order to find out how to choose one and lots more.

This Guide is written by Retirement Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team. As well as writing on retirement matters Dave is Training Director at LaterLife and responsible for the content and continuous improvement of LaterLife's Retirement Courses.
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