Finding the perfect retirement village

Amy Hamilton Chadwick
Finding the perfect retirement village

More than 40,000 New Zealanders live in retirement villages – 13% of Kiwis aged 75-plus - and the rate is rising.

With around 400 villages to choose from, ranging in size, location, amenities and price, how do you start to figure out which is the best one for you?

 

Think about what kind of lifestyle you want in retirement

Retirement villages can vary in size from a small community through to 500 units. The average village size in Auckland is 172 units, while outside Auckland the average size is 78 units.

Some people thrive in large villages that have a wide range of facilities, such as swimming pools, cafes, gyms and bowling greens says Paula Bishop, founder of Village Guide. Others thrive in small villages with a more boutique feel; “Try to find a village that suits your ideal lifestyle,” Bishop advises.

 

Consider the location

What are your location priorities: friends, family members, a beach lifestyle, city living?

Writing a list of what’s most important to you will allow you to narrow down your options. If you’re not planning to drive, you’ll need to be close to public transport.

 

Decide what level of care you want available

Most retirement villages offer three levels of care: independent living (in a house or apartment), part-time care or day-to-day assistance (in a serviced apartment) or 24-hour care from nurses and trained caregivers (in a care home), says Bishop.

“Ideally, you want to look for somewhere that lets you have continuous care, where you start out living independently and eventually increase your level of care as needed. You should consider the future if you don’t want to move again.”

 

Find the right cultural fit

Visit four or five different villages before you make up your mind; ask if you can join in on some of the activities.

Bishop says this is a great way to get a feel for the village and its residents: “Cultural fit is an important one. You want that sense of belonging, that feeling that ‘These are my people and I belong here’.”

 

Choose a residence and understand what you’re paying for

You’re likely to be able to choose between a one-, two- or three-bedroom villa or apartment; how much space do you need? Do you need a guest bedroom? How many of your possessions will be moving in with you?

Prices will vary – Sorted has a financial checklist that may be helpful for researching your decision. Villas and apartments may be offered as a unit title, licence to occupy, cross lease or lease for life; always get legal advice so you understand exactly what you’re signing up for.

Whatever village catches your eye, don’t rush into it, says Bishop: “You want to be confident in the decision you’re making, so make an informed decision – do your research!”

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