Yesterday I attended a sales presentation for a retirement village. I’m a long way from retirement yet, but I thought it would be interesting to explore the local retirement village at closer quarters. I’m always ready to do something in the name of research because I never know when it will come in handy for a story. Oh, and did I mention there was a free lunch involved? That was the tipping point since I didn’t have anything better to do.
Like many people I’ve heard horror stories about the way these places work, but hubby and I often see the residents out walking and the grounds look beautiful – what we can see of them.
Let me start by saying that not all retirement villages are created equal. Some go bankrupt because of poor management while others have bad reputations. Some retirement villages include rest homes and hospitals. This one doesn’t, instead catering to those who are fairly independent. Buying into a village like this is not a monetary investment. Residents purchase a right to occupy a property. If they die or require the use of a rest home, their families receive 75% of their purchase price back. The other 25% of the purchase price gets written off over five years. If a resident leaves within five years they get a portion of this 25% back as well, worked out on a daily basis. Once a resident dies, the property passes back to village ownership and is resold.
In return for their money the resident receives security and companionship. They have a say in the running of the village via a representative council and can join in one of the thirty-three activities on offer or they can do their own thing. This particular village has a bus so those who don’t enjoy driving or can’t doesn’t need to depend on friends or family to take them out. There is 24 hour medical care available from a nurse in the case of an emergency. Family and friends are welcome to visit and use the amenities, and they also have a motel room that can be booked for visitors. The amenities include a gym, a heated swimming pool, a bowling green, a restaurant, a library and a bar. The village has an active social club that runs the bar and has happy hour several times a week.
Evidently the bar and happy hour is well attended, but the manager of the club laughingly joked they had a problem with drinking and driving. But, he commented, that was better than the problem of prostitutes some of the other villages experienced. I had to laugh at that. Erotic romance writer that I am, my mind went all sorts of places.
The village management are responsible for building insurance and maintenance, all property rates (taxes) plus water rates. Residents remain responsible for power, telephone and personal contents insurance.
I inspected several of the housing options, which range from apartments to two and three bedroom units. Most of them have beautiful gardens and decent sized outdoor areas. There are gardeners and grounds people to take care of lawns etc, but residents are welcome to do their own gardens. I ride past several of the tidy vegetable plots when I go for my daily bike ride.
I left after lunch and two glasses of red wine (that magically refilled when I wasn’t looking!) with a very favourable opinion of this style of retirement. While it’s not an investment opportunity, a village like this has much to offer a healthy and independent retiree. I’ll definitely be checking it out again once I near retirement age.
I know retirement is probably a long way off for most of you, but do you have any idea of how you would like to spend your golden years?