​One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed is the importance of friendships and community. Which is why living in a retirement development has become so attractive

One couple, enjoying the social benefits of living in a retirement development in Highcliffe-on-Sea in Dorset, are Barry and Pauline Jenkins who lived in Spain for 22 years, before moving back to the UK in 2018.

The couple sold their house in Spain and looked for a property to rent.

Barry explains, “We wanted to rent rather than buy because renting gives us the option of upping sticks and moving in about a month if we decide to, whereas you never know how long it’s going to take to sell a property. Renting gives us freedom of choice.”

Barry and Pauline moved to Dorset to be close to their family. However, they had to find a landlord prepared to take their two dogs, Sophie and Chica too.

They found a lovely one-bedroom apartment in Homecliffe House through Girlings and were relieved they’d be able to take the dogs too.

Barry says, “The apartment ticked all the boxes and since moving in we’ve been very happy.

“Highcliffe-on-Sea is a small town, so we have everything we need close by and we’re only five minutes from the sea.

“We did not know anyone in the town apart from our family and living in a retirement development has been a great way to meet people.

“Homecliffe House is a wonderful place to live with a great atmosphere – and the social life is a real bonus!”

Barry has kept residents busy during the lockdowns with his quizzes.

“My wife goes out for a daily walk with our dogs, but as I can’t walk too far,” he explains.

“So I’m writing a lot of quizzes, which our neighbours are enjoying taking part in!  I’m doing about two or three a week and handing them out to everyone, and they are returning the answers.

“Some of us are also meeting together in the communal lounge when we can. There’s usually around three or four of us, keeping our distance but enjoying a natter over a cup of coffee. Some people have been self-isolating in our block, but everyone looks out for each other, which is really good.”

Jamie Turnbull, Business Director at Girlings Retirement Rentals says, “The pandemic has brought many challenges for older people including loneliness, especially for those that live alone or who have been shielding. But for residents living in retirement developments being part of a community can be a real lifeline.”

“Having neighbours close by has meant people in developments still have some social interaction, even if it’s just to say hello in passing.

“Many developments have communal gardens, so people have been able to meet socially distanced for a chat, especially during the warmer months. We expect more retirees will consider moving into retirement developments in the future as they appreciate the social benefits this can bring.”

Girlings has properties available throughout the UK including a one-bedroom apartment at Homespa House, close to the centre of Cheltenham, one of England’s most attractive and elegant spa towns famed for its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere.

This costs £750 per calendar month on an assured (lifetime) tenancy and includes all services and maintenance charges.

Or there is a sunny, south-facing one-bedroom apartment at Homecroft House in one of the principal residential avenues in Bognor Regis.

The apartment is close to local amenities and is level-walking distance to the seafront.

Homecroft House

This costs £750 per calendar month on an assured (lifetime) tenancy and includes all services and maintenance charges.

For more information on Girlings Retirement Rentals and other properties available visit www.girlings.co.uk.

A study by the Centre for Ageing Better last year found that the first lockdown saw a surge in community activity, with 54 per cent of people aged 50 to 69 years reporting a greater sense of belonging to their neighbourhood or local area since lockdown and 76 per cent saying they know more people they can count on to help them out*.

But other research by live-in agency, Elder found a huge increase in loneliness in older people, with one in three saying they felt lonelier due to COVID-19. They say the crisis is particularly acute for those living alone, with over half less likely to be in any contact with family, and three times more likely to fear being left alone.

 *this is for the group the researchers defined as ‘living comfortably’.

Homespa House

Homecroft House