Choosing a retirement apartment is a big decision, so what should you take into account? We’ve talked to people who moved from their family home to a retirement apartment. Listed below are some of the factors they considered prior to making their decision. It isn’t an exhaustive list, but it might give you a few things to think about if you’re apartment hunting.
Do you have a favourite part about where you live now?
Are you currently living in a house? Making the transition from a house to an apartment is a big change. You want to be sure that you don’t have to compromise your comfort and privacy.
Consider what you value about your current living situation. Is it the proximity to amenities, ease of access, gardens and space to walk around?
Also, take into consideration what it is that you don’t like about your current abode. You may be fed up with all the clutter you’ve accumulated over the years. Do you get overwhelmed by the upkeep that’s required? What about the hours spent cleaning rooms that are not used?
Sometimes it’s bitter-sweet e.g. this aspect appeals to me, but there is a downside. It could be that you enjoy the space of having a backyard and garden… but don’t want the hassle of taking care of it. As you make this move, it’s important to think about what you value and make sure you don’t lose the things you love.
Here’s an exercise that may help. Make two columns on a piece of paper – one labelled ‘Current Reality’ and one labelled ‘Desired Future’. Fill out the first column with what your living situation looks like right now – the good and the bad. Then, fill out the second column with all the things that you want in your future.
When you’re done, you’ll have a better understanding of what kind of apartment you should opt for – and you’ll feel better about making your choice when you find one that ticks most (or all) of your boxes. This exercise is very personal to you.
Do you prefer to be close to the hub or far away from it?
The layout of the apartment in relation to the rest of the village is an important consideration. Do you want to be close to the central hub of the village, where you will find all the amenities and social activities. Or would you prefer to be on the outskirts of the village? Is having everything within easy walking distance important to you?
Would you rather live in a townhouse or apartment?
Townhouses at Settlers Lifestyle Village are spacious 2 or 3 bedrooms with garages.
But some apartments are also extremely spacious, while others are better suited for one person. At Settlers Lifestyle Village, for example, there are one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom apartments. The three-bedroom apartments are as big as a standard three-bedroom home.
“We had a three-bedroom house that is roughly the same size as what we’ve got now”.
Brent has been living at Settlers Lifestyle Village for over 8 years. Here’s what he said about moving to a lifestyle village.
“We had no intention of going into a lifestyle village. But once we saw what was here we changed our mind about it”.
When Brent’s sister heard he’d moved into an apartment she said to him “There’s no way I’m living in an apartment”. But after seeing Brent’s and going on a tour of the village, she changed her mind. After just two hours she’d put down a deposit on an apartment at Settlers. She’d never lived in an apartment before and was scared of heights so she wasn’t keen on the third floor – until she saw the views from the top. That was it, she said – “I want to live here”.
There’s so much variation in apartments, some have huge decks, allow pets, and are very spacious, while others have enclosed balconies (kinda defeats the purpose!), and are really only suitable for one person. Some ground-floor apartments even have their own garden. Apart from not having garages some apartments aren’t too different from townhouses
While some apartments fit your initial perceptions of apartment living, others may blow your mind, like Brent’s sister’s.
“Our apartment is big compared to other lifestyle villages. In others, you can hardly get a wheelchair down a corridor. The ceilings are high, they’re not low. The corridors are wide. We can go from the lounge to the patio and sit and have our coffee. We are private, back onto a nomad’s land with a bit of river and it’s not a big enough area to be built on. If you have a ground apartment you can ask to do your own garden”.
When June first looked at the villas, she knew they weren’t for her. The thought of living alone in a large villa was daunting and made her worry about loneliness. She referred to the villas as ‘out there’, and it was clear the apartment residents thought of them as quite far away.
Although she never considered herself an ‘apartment person’, moving into one was the best decision she ever made. The sense of community and connection with others had lifted her spirits and made her feel more at ease in her new living situation.
“I swapped some space inside for all of this (gesturing to the dining room, cafe, and outside gardens)”.
Being close to the central hub means all of these facilities are a few steps away. Also, she’s close to the nurse’s station, so if you press your alarm, the nurse will come.
What she loves about living in an apartment is that everything she needs is right there, and the wide corridors connect everything.
Do you prefer homely or ultra-modern?
A spacious village gives you a feeling of openness and facilitates ease of movement. Recent comments from retirees looking for apartments reveal that some can feel quite claustrophobic.
High-rise buildings loom over the grounds, casting shadows and creating an overbearing atmosphere that can feel intimidating. Corridors that are too narrow only add to the feeling of constriction.
On the other hand, those looking for a homely atmosphere mention the importance of spacious surroundings, wide corridors, high ceilings and large dining areas. While gardens and established trees provide a sense of comfort and timeliness.
The look and feel of the apartment are also important factors to keep in mind. Some apartments are ultra-modern, while others are more traditional. A traditional look can give you a feeling of homeliness. It can provide you with the comfort you need to settle in.
Would your family enjoy visiting you here?
When considering where to live, think about how your family might feel visiting you there. For example, some villages are very family-friendly. Grandchildren have overnight visits with residents and are able to use the pool within certain hours. Large open spaces and established trees create a park-like atmosphere, making them a wonderful place to visit. While spacious open-plan living areas and decks make them ideal for entertaining family and friends.
Can you make your apartment your own?
Will the apartment be completely refurbished before you move in, and if so how much say do you have in choosing fixtures and fitting. Is it possible to alter things if you don’t like something about your apartment? For a person to feel at home, it is essential that they have a say in the look and feel of their new home. Here’s what an apartment dweller at Settlers Lifestyle Village has to say about heres.
“Apartments are beautifully renovated, and you can make them your own. You can choose your carpet and drapes, and add small details that are important to you. Having the freedom to do that is important.
Do you want to free up more cash?
Apartments vary considerably in price. Some are quite a bit cheaper than villas, but naturally smaller. Do you really need the extra space? Choosing an apartment over a villa can help you free up funds that you can use for other purposes. Additionally, villas can be too big for one person. Obviously, larger 3-bedroom apartments are more expensive than smaller ones.
What kind of vibe do you want – a community atmosphere or one where everyone keeps to themselves?
Whether you prefer a tight-knit, community atmosphere or one where people keep to themselves, it’s important to find a place that aligns with your social preferences. When searching for a new apartment, take the time to consider the kind of atmosphere you desire, as what you can’t see is just as important as what you can.
Walk around and talk to the residents to get a sense of the community. You need to feel how friendly, supportive, and connected the community is. Make sure the environment provides a sense of belonging if that’s important to you.
“If you ask people here they’ll say there is a vibe and on a Friday night it’s really exciting, it bubbles. We have about 150 here for happy hour.”
“People say – ‘your village is so different’.”
“We have about 350 friends now that we never had before.”
“We often say ‘What would we be doing if we weren’t here’. I don’t think we would be as happy. We wouldn’t have the friends we have here.”
“You’re here just to enjoy yourself. That’s the fun of it! There is so much to do if you want to do it, and if you don’t, just stay home.”
A young village or an old village?
We heard a lot of residents use the terms “young olds” and “old olds” when talking about their villages. It’s not our intention to label anyone, but it’s a way for them to describe villages that are more tailored to the needs of the residents. Some villages are great for those who are more independent and active, while others provide more support for those with greater care needs. Which would you prefer?
Are there maintenance staff on site? How do they handle issues?
Lastly, maintenance is critical in ensuring that you enjoy your retirement with convenience and comfort. One of the big advantages of apartment living is not having to worry about upkeep. Opt for an apartment within a community where the upkeep and maintenance are up to par. Ensure that the community has a maintenance team that can respond promptly to repair or maintenance requests.
Overall, choosing the right retirement apartment is a big decision. Transitioning from a house to an apartment requires considering your current living situation, what you value, and what you don’t like. If you weigh the pros and cons and envision your ideal retirement, you’ll feel more comfortable with your choice.
When selecting a retirement apartment, location, proximity to the central hub, open spaces, corridor size, look and feel, and community vibe are all important factors. Upkeep and maintenance are also important, as is the size of the apartment.
Hopefully, this article has provided some helpful insight into what to look for when choosing a retirement apartment.