Questions to ask before you choose a retirement village

Deciding on the right time to move to a retirement facility can be a difficult and emotional choice.  There are ways to make it easier, and finding out all you can about the accommodation that you are considering can be both empowering and stress-relieving.  Here are some common questions that will help you to match your own lifestyle needs to the best facility.

Financial considerations:

  • Are you buying a unit outright or is this a life-rights/tenancy purchase? What rental options are there?
  • Who is responsible for resale?
  • What deposit is required? What upfront, non-refundable administration fee to secure the unit?
  • If life rights, what is the sliding scale? For example, if you have been there between one and two years, you get 90% back, and if you have been there between three and five years, you get 70% back, and so on.
  • If life rights, do you get a percentage of the original price you paid or current market value?
  • Can I leave my unit to my children?
  • How does costing work when you move from independent living to assisted or frail care?
  • What is the levy and what does it include?
  • What is the levy for assisted living and frail care and what does that include?
  • Are laundry costs included, if you need to use the service?
  • What are the costs of meals at the restaurant, if there is one?
  • Any additional costs to take into account?
  • How often do costs escalate?

Exploring options

  • Does the facility have a respectable website with clear contact details?
  • Does the facility run visitors’ days for prospective residents or do you need to make an individual appointment?
  • How do you get onto the waiting list and is there a cost involved?
  • How long is the waiting list and how does the process work?
  • Are there any conditions regarding applying – medical examination, age limit or health limit?
  • Does the list apply any preferential criteria, for example, on the basis of religion, and, if so, what is required by the facility to qualify for the preference?
  • What is availability? Of couples, single occupation, assisted living, frail care?

The facility and its rules:

  • Are pets allowed? What are the conditions?
  • Can you cultivate your own garden?
  • How many garages are there allocated per unit and how close is it to the unit? Is there an additional cost?
  • Is there a ‘clubhouse’ or entertainment area? Can you rent this and how much is it?
  • Is there a restaurant, a lifestyle centre, a hairdresser or spa, a chapel, a library?
  • What activities are offered? Church services, charity or hobby clubs?  Exercise classes?
  • What is the care available onsite, for example, can I have a nurse visit daily?
  • What happens when one half of a couple needs frail care while the other is still living in the cottage?
  • Is there an Alzheimer’s facility?
  • Are there regular visits by a doctor, a podiatrist, and so on?
  • Am I able to make alterations to my unit?
  • Is there transport to and from shopping centres, hospitals, etc.?
  • Is there an option to stay here temporarily, for example, during convalescence?
  • Can I host a visitor to stay over? Is there such accommodation available in the village?
  • I have a down syndrome/disabled child. Can he/she live in this unit until his/her passing, if we make financial provision for that?

Personal considerations

  • When is the right time or age to commit to moving?
  • Why sell the family home and downsize when we’re still fit and mobile?
  • How will we cope with having to let go of many personal possessions, with their precious memories?
  • Can we afford to move?
  • Why even consider moving into a community of “golden oldies”?
  • When we give up our independence, surely we’ll start ageing overnight?
  • Won’t we be bored, boring and end up just being grumpy?
  • What will I do, if I find myself on my own?
  • Why not just carry on here in our home, until we’re forced to make a final move?
  • How many times do we want to move or do we want to make this a once-only move?
  • If I decide to declutter, what do I do with all my stuff?

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