Choosing a retirement apartment is a big decision, and it’s important to take time to consider all your options. But how do you decide?
Find out how Robin and Chris decided which apartment was right for them. Below is a list of the factors they considered when making their decision.
Take a moment to think about each of the following questions to help you narrow down your options.
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.
But what about people who have made the switch? What perspectives can they provide? We asked two apartment dwellers what advice they would give to others. Here are a few factors to consider as provided by Robin and Chris.
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. For example, at Fairview, the apartments are within close proximity to the main hub, whereas the Villas are further away. Is having everything within easy walking distance important to you? Or would you rather be away from it?
When Robin 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.
Chris moved into her apartment 18 years ago with her husband. Her husband passed away 6 years later. Her husband really benefited from living at Fairview. He was a super fit guy – still swam, loved the gym, bowls and so on.
He loved that there was lift access, as navigating the stairs was a challenge. Being able to conserve your energy for the activities you enjoy without having to walk long distances or up and down stairs to get anywhere is a real bonus.
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 and large dining areas. While gardens and established trees provide a sense of comfort and timeliness.
“This village has got that extra dimension, it’s not great big tall buildings and rows of apartments which I would find claustrophobic. And the garden is beautiful and we can easily walk around the village.. It’s quite social!
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.
Robin likes the traditional look (referring specifically to wood trimmings) and prefers it that way over something ultra-modern. To her, it feels like home.
Do you want to free up more cash?
Apartments are 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.
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.
“This is a happy village and it’s a homely village. It’s not clinical, it’s a community.”
“This village is quite unique. We explored other villages but didn’t get the vibe. They weren’t friendly atmospheres. It felt as if you were living in a corridor.”
The fear of being lonely is a worry for many seniors. The right village can provide a sense of connection, community, and belonging so that you don’t feel alone.
Robin enjoys going to the movies on Tuesday nights, swimming, and attending exercise classes to keep fit and stretch. She even joined a stitch club and some external clubs. She’s never lonely with the conversations to be had, “but people are also good at knowing when you want some space too”, she finds.
Chris still works part-time and keeps very busy. What she loves about living here is how people notice things – but not in a nosy way.
“If you see a paper outside your neighbour’s door uncollected at 1pm, and they usually collect it in the morning, you’ll ask the staff to check up on them, make sure everything is alright. Everyone does that for each other here.”
“It’s nice to know there’s company next door. You can do your own thing and participate when you wish. “
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.
Chris loves how any maintenance issues are taken care of very quickly, and it pays off.
“I’ve been here 18 years and the apartment still looks brand new!”
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.
Factors such as location, proximity to the central hub, open spaces, size of the corridors, look and feel and community vibe are key aspects to selecting the right retirement apartment. Future upkeep and maintenance are also important.
We hope this article has provided some helpful insights into what to look for when choosing a retirement apartment.