Is It Time for a Fresh Start?

As the new year rolls in, it brings with it a sense of fresh beginnings and new possibilities. While some might opt for a new job or a resolution to change their habits, others might look at a new place to live. If you’re a retiree that has been contemplating a fresh start, you may find this article helpful. Several retirees who’ve moved to a lifestyle village have shared some of the factors they considered before making their decisions. We hope that these insights can help you in your decision-making process.

You might start by considering downsizing

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Sometimes the decision to move into a lifestyle village is made over a period of time. You start toying with the idea of selling the family home and moving into a townhouse or apartment first. In case you are thinking of downsizing, ask yourself “How long will I stay there before eventually moving into a village ”.

“We didn’t look at a village initially, we were looking to downsize, move North a bit, and then I asked Paul ‘How long will we live in this downsized house before we move into a retirement village’ and he said ‘3 – 5 years’, and I said – ‘so why move twice?’ And so that changed our whole outlook”.

There may be something that triggers a desire to move, such as…

Changes in the community

“We’d lived between Milfrod and Takapuna for 25 years. We loved it there. We had evaluated that at some point we would need to move, but when the house behind us was going to be taken down and four townhouses built right on our boundary, and then the neighbours next to that sold, it suddenly became 8 townhouses, and that was the decision. They were going to be three stories high, and that was our sunnyside so they were taking our sun”. Anne

A sudden realisation it’s time

One of our participants had lost her spouse and for several years she continued on in the home until one day she just knew it was time to move on.

“I knew it was time. I knew I didn’t need to be working in the garden at least one full day a week. I kept getting things around the house that needed maintenance, and of course, an older house needed it. All sorts of things went awry. Those are the things you panic about and obsess about until they fix. You can’t help it. You have got no one at home to talk to about it. I don’t want to burden my kids. They are all very busy.”

The illness of a spouse

“Four years ago June had a stroke. This is another thing that coming in here gives us – the opportunity for nursing. And if anything happens you’ve got the alarms”.

But for June health wasn’t the deciding factor, “it was so Barry could mix with other people” and not have to worry so much about her.

Yes it can be emotional, but it can also be liberating

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It’s natural to feel emotional when closing the door to the family home for the last time. But as the old adage goes – as one door closes, another opens.

“I had lived in the same place for 44 years – the one house, which my dad and my husband built. It was a hard wrench but it was another phase. I can remember driving out and thinking ‘right, this is the next phase of my life’, but the interesting thing is other things opened up for me.

Don’t leave it too late

Don’t be of the mindset that you should stay in your family home as long as possible – there are no medals for holding out. You don’t have to wait until you can no longer live independently. While you’re young and active enough to fully enjoy everything that’s on offer is a fantastic time. So many of our residents said they wish they’d moved 5 – 10 years sooner.

“People leave it too late. Most people are in their late 70’s. The benefit of coming early is that you can take advantage of the facilities”.

“I’m happier here – I’m much happier here. I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do in my home – the pressure is off – things like a huge pohutukawa tree by our courtyard that was always dropping, and every day – little things like that really add up, and over time it got more and more annoying”.

Shake off preconceived ideas

Some people have preconceived notions about retirement villages.

“I didn’t think it would be like this. I thought it would be a lot of old people walking around with walkers. But when we moved in here there were only three people with walkers, out of 364!

However, there is a difference between a lifestyle village and a retirement 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 I moved in here one of my good friends would give me stick about it. He would say ‘How’s things at the rest home, did they come and tuck you into bed last night alright?’ And then one day I was at the bar and he came up to me and said ‘You know I’m only joking, in fact, I’m quite envious of you’. Since then out of the group of 10, 4 others have moved into a lifestyle village.

When you release yourself from the past, it can feel quite liberating

‘Everywhere I looked in my family home, I saw my late husband, mother and father, and I felt like I was stuck in the past. I wanted a new future for myself, a life of my own’. Maree
Letting go of possessions can be quite liberating too.

You don’t need it. That’s the thing. You don’t need what you thought you did in your past.

In my 20’s I collected things, and then in my thirties it was different again…. I don’t want this stuff in my life anymore. If I get rid of stuff around me my mind is freer.

Finally, one of the questions we asked our participants was ‘Can you picture what you would be like right now if you hadn’t moved here’.

“We often say ‘what we would 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. There is kinda a weight on your shoulder. Once you settle in you think I should have done this sooner. People often say we should have been here 6 years earlier”.

“You haven’t got the high maintenance. We are saving more money here than we were at home. Your rates aren’t going up. When something needs fixing you put a form in and it’s fixed within a day. We have two dedicated maintenance people”.

“I saw decks cracking, fences ready to come down, the roof was starting to show signs of wear and tear, and the garden was starting to overgrow, so to come in here and be with my wife, instead of having to go and do chores I feel a lot better”.


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In conclusion, the new year represents a perfect time to reevaluate your current living situation and make positive changes towards a happier and more fulfilling life. If you’re a retiree considering a fresh start, then a lifestyle village is worth a look. In a lifestyle village like Settlers, you’ll find a supportive community, a range of social activities, care services, safety, and security, all while minimising your home maintenance responsibilities and lowering your cost of living. With this newfound freedom, you can enjoy your retirement while focusing on your hobbies, exploring new interests and living your life to the fullest.

Are you interested in learning more about lifestyle villages? Check out these articles for more information on what to consider when choosing one.

Quotes and insights shared above were obtained from interviews conducted with residents of premier lifestyle villages for a study titled – ‘An exploration of residents’ perspectives of well-being in relation to retirement village living’. Names have been withheld or changed to protect the identity of the participants.