The prospect of retiring can be quite intimidating. People worry about how they will adjust to having nothing to do after a daily routine and with no monthly salary…

This ties in with various other issues in old age, such as health problems and the ability to live independently.

Yet, planning ahead and making suitable choices can certainly help set one’s mind at ease.

“A vital element during this period is where you choose to live,” explains the CEO of Evergreen Retirement Holdings, Arthur Case. “Many of us don’t give this much consideration, yet it’s absolutely crucial.”

Far too many people simply continue living in the family home they’ve owned for 30 or 40 years

Yet, that property was probably not acquired to meet the needs of a 60-year-old.  It possibly was acquired when a couple was far younger and starting a family.  With children, more bedrooms and bathrooms, a garden of some size, and large living spaces are sought-after.  But, once the children have moved out, none of those features are necessary.

“So, downsizing into something smaller is an obvious thing to do; however, the size of the home you choose is only one element to consider,” shares Case.  “Other issues – the location of the home, security, legal regime applying to the property, facilities on-site or nearby – are equally important.”

Staying in the family home means that you’ll pay rates and maintenance costs for rooms and outdoor spaces that you’re unlikely to use.  If your retirement funding is limited, this clearly doesn’t make financial sense.  Plus, the typical suburban home, with its distance from neighbouring properties, can be easy pickings for criminals, especially when the residents are elderly and frail.

An alternative is a retirement complex with smaller units, which are close to one another, and neighbours at a similar stage of life and with similar interests.  The presence of others close by also reduces the risk of one becoming isolated and lonely, which is so often the case when a retired person lives on their own in the family home.

Retirement accommodation can be acquired by way of purchasing either a freehold or a sectional title unit

Or via the newer Life Right Model, through which one gains the right to live in the property throughout one’s life and the life of one’s spouse.  Ownership still vests with the developer, and so the responsibility for maintenance of both the estate and its units rests with the developer, rather than the resident – unlike in the case of a sectional title or freehold unit.

“The resident is relieved of the burden of maintaining the building and garden, not having to fork out large sums for special levies that a sectional title body corporate may wish to raise,” adds Case.

He continues to point out that this allows for a retiree to have a far better sense of future costs – important for those with limited retirement money.

These types of retirement lifestyle villages promote physical activity, cultural stimulation and social involvement with resort-style facilities such as gyms, heated pools, bowling greens, art groups, and so on.  In addition, home-based healthcare and frail care are a part of the complex, meaning that, should a resident’s health deteriorate significantly at some point, the trauma of a sudden uprooting from the home is avoided.

“The value of planning ahead properly cannot be understated.  Choosing a home suitable both for independent living and assisted living in the long term is a wise choice,” concludes Case.

This article was first published by All4Women on 9 November 2017.