Age UK’s latest factsheet which publishes the most up-to-date information on people aged 65+ within the UK,shows that there are now 11.4 million people aged 65 or over, with 3 million of those aged over 80. Add to that the predictions that the number of people aged 65+ is projected to rise by nearly 50% in the next 17 years and the population of over 75’s is projected to double in 30 years, is it any wonder that the government and housing developers are looking at retirement housing?
Retirement properties make- up just 2% of the UK housing stock whereas 25% of the over 60’s would be interested in buying a retirement property – that’s a massive 3.5 million people (http://demos.co.uk/projects/topoftheladder).
But before you rush out and buy a new retirement property you need to stop and consider your options. Buying a retirement home is really another step in your property buying ladder and, just like when purchasing other types of property, you need to think what you want now and what you may need in the future.
Retirement Apartment or Retirement Village
Surely this is the same thing, I hear you say? Yes, both provide retirement properties but really that is where the similarities end. Retirement apartments usually provide just that; apartments designed to suit the elderly but with very little in terms of other facilities. Whereas within a retirement village you will have access to far more facilities such as restaurants, bar, lounges, and some even include full spa facilities with pool, gym, treatment rooms and hair salon.
You know the type of people you like spending your time with, so finding a retirement community with ‘people like us’ will be important. For many, moving from their old home and community could be a wrench, while for others the opportunity to meet new likeminded friends will be yet one more advantage to making the move.
Services and Facilities
It is important to look to the future; what you don’t need now, you may well need in the future. You will probably still be driving when you move but what happens if you need to give your car up? Does the retirement development have a driver and vehicles available? What facilities would you like? A restaurant on your doorstep; access to cleaners; gardens; communal lounges; social events?
Care and Support
Often when people move to a retirement property they think this will be their last move. However, what happens if in the future you have a care need? Does the establishment have carers on-site or is it just access to an emergency call service? Some retirement villages have assisted living apartments (sometimes known as extra care) which provides a full service package including meals, cleaning and laundry and as well as a care home providing 24-hour nursing and dementia care. Having these care facilities will be a reassurance that help and support is available should you ever need it.
Estate agents say ‘location, location, location’ are the three most important things when choosing your new home, and this still applies when buying a retirement property. You may prefer a development close to a town centre or one in a more tranquil, rural setting. If the latter, you will want to know that transportation is available to get you out and about, and that this is provided free and on a frequent basis.
A good place for help when looking would be ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators) who represents retirement community operators in the UK.
So what would be the most important aspect that you would look for when considering a retirement property? I would love to hear your views.