Today’s retirement homes and communities are modern, well equipped and offer a range of flexible living option. They can even offer gyms, gated access and organised activities. The right retirement home can help make your later life easier, more sociable and a lot more enjoyable.

But how to go about choosing the best one for your requirements? In this article, we examine the key considerations that come with selecting a retirement home – from the benefits, to the various types of retirement living and typical costs, as well as provide some top tips on the decision making process.

Retirement homes: What are the benefits?

There are many advantages in moving to a retirement home or a retirement community. These include:

Low maintenance – Maintaining a home can be time consuming, not to mention costly. Many DIY tasks become less suitable as we get older and finding suitable tradesmen to take on small jobs can be difficult. Many retirement homes offer the advantage of being entirely maintenance free on all fronts, meaning that dealing with regular checks around the house, as well as the problem of appliances unexpectedly breaking down can become a thing of the past.

Social life – Retirement homes and retirement communities provide a true community spirit. There are plenty of optional social meetings and activities on offer, allowing residents to get to know each other and the staff. From shared facilities such as gardens, gyms and swimming pools to organised meals, games nights, social outings and trips, there are many opportunities to enjoy the company of others in a wide variety of ways.

Safety – Staff can be present at all time in retirement homes and communities, which can be reassuring especially for those who live a long way from family members. Any unexpected issues or emergencies, from falls to sudden health concerns, can be responded to immediately.

Support – Extra support is available. Some retirement homes offer residents the choice of buying their own groceries or enjoying the benefit of meal assistance when they prefer to. That means daily food costs are already paid for, and meals can be cooked and prepared for residents if they’d like.

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Types of retirement living

There are many different retirement living options available.

Own home – Many retirees prefer to stay in their own home. From maintaining independence, to living in a cherished family home close to neighbours, friends and family, there are many reasons why this is a popular option. And with the help of home care services if necessary, this is perfectly possible. On the other hand, many retirees may feel lonely and isolated and their home setup may no longer suit their needs in terms of mobility and access.

Retirement property – Many housebuilders offer a range of retirement housing aimed specifically at older people. Residents must usually be aged over 55 or 60 in order to buy a property. Retirement properties can also be bought through shared ownership, which involves buying a share of a property rather than buying the property outright. Depending on how big the share is, you may be charged rent on the remainder.

Sheltered living – Sheltered living programmes are typically offered by housing associations or local authorities. They provide rented accommodation which are particularly designed for retirees or those considered vulnerable.

Retirement communities – Retirement communities promote a large degree of independence among retirees, allowing them to continue living in their own property, but also offers advantages such as a higher level of security (often through location in a gated community with security staff), social activities with fellow retirees in the same community, and a choice of several locations, often in attractive rural or semi-rural areas.

Retirement homes – A retirement home is a complex which is specifically designed to accommodate older people. There are several different types of retirement homes. These can range from general care homes and specialist care to round-the-clock medical care offered by a nursing home.

The cost of retirement homes

In the UK, there are several price points on offer for different varieties of retirement home. According to research from healthcare specialists LaingBuisson, the average price for one year’s stay in a residential care home is £29,270 per year. That figure rises to an average of £39,300 if nursing is required.

There are also retirement homes which are designed luxuriously available. There are often termed as ‘luxury retirement villages’, and typically come with a higher annual fee. They can offer a very high quality of interior including fixtures and fittings, as well as a wide range of amenities – from fine dining to spas, golf courses, room service and gyms.

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Retirement homes – tips for choosing

As retirement homes and retirement communities are so varied in their format, scope and costs, it is important to take time to consider which option is right for you:

Do your research – Many of us start the search for a retirement home with a blank canvas. Before you can settle on the type of retirement home which is available to you, use all the information resources available to you in order to do your research. These could include the internet and retirement home professionals who are there to help.

Know what you want – Consider what your ideal retirement home arrangement is like. Do you want to rent a space in a retirement home, or own a property within a retirement community? What is your budget? How many services if any, including care, do you require? Ensure you know all the options that are available to you in your geographical location of choice. You can then discuss with family and friends before deciding on your choice of retirement housing.

Ask questions – Once you have whittled your favoured retirement home options down to a shortlist, you can prepare a set of questions about retirement home properties or complexes. Additional information, other than that which you see on advertisements, is typically made available by agents on request.

Go to viewings – Aim to view each retirement home on your shortlist in person. And don’t hesitate to go back for a second or third look if you feel you need to. You can draw up some questions to ask at the viewing and take notes or photographs to record what you like, and what you don’t.

As with any sort of significant investment or living choice, it can pay dividends to come to a careful decision.