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Jane Slade offers a five point guide to sourcing the ideal retirement property

A new survey from the Retirement Villages Group reveals that over 55s biggest worry is their health. Yet evidence shows that people live longer, healthier lives in a retirement community. the only problem is finding the right one for you.

Location

If you are moving to be closer to friends or relatives remember to choose somewhere near the high street or close to good transport links. Living in the middle of nowhere – unless there is a dedicated shuttle bus – can leave you feeling isolated especially if you don’t drive.

Property type

Think about your future needs and depending on your budget consider one of three main types of accommodation; an apartment with few facilities; sheltered housing offering extra support if you need it or a bolts-and-braces retirement village with a nursing home on site. McCarthy and Stone and Churchill tend to offer ‘no frills’ developments with an owner’s lounge and on-site manager although M&S is building more assisted-living schemes. Inspired Villages, Audley are more like boutique hotels with restaurants, gyms and landscaped gardens with domiciliary care available. Whereas LifeCare Residences, Retirement Villages and Richmond Villages include residential nursing homes in their schemes.

Buy or rent

Most properties are still sold leasehold, but you can also rent. Birchgrove, 73-apartments for over 65s in Sidcup completes next year with rents from £1,400 a month including utilities; and Girlings Retirement Rentals has properties all over the UK with assured tenancies for life. Platinum Skies offers part-buy, part-rent options in the retirement hotspots of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch in Dorset priced from £145,000 for 50 per cent share. And Mayfield Villages has launched an affordable scheme of one-and-two bed homes in Watford, Hertfordshire priced from £262,500.

Hobbies and facilities

Think about choosing a development where you can pursue your hobbies or take up new ones. Most villages have a choir and a piano.
Retirement Villages’ Elmbridge village in Surrey has allotments and 12 greenhouses for gardening enthusiasts, and at Anchor Trust’s Bishopstoke Park in Hampshire there is a sensory garden designed to evoke memories. Most are pet friendly but high-end operators like London-based Elysian Residences will go the extra mile and pet-sit, walk your pet and even give it wash.

Try before you buy

Visit as many developments as you can – they are all different. Most like Churchill and Renaissance Retirement offer a try-before-you-buy service where you can spend a night in the development’s guest suite, meet the owners and explore the area. Audley also offers owners an exchange home-buying service while McCarthy and Stone has a part exchange and moving solutions scheme to ease the moving process.