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Questions to ask when looking at retirement villages

When thinking about retirement living options, it’s not always easy to decide what is the right choice for you and your family. With so many options to consider, it’s a good idea to come prepared with the key questions to ask.

The village centre

Having a wander around the village is the best way to obtain a true appreciation of what village life will be like. Take in the sights and sounds and observe the general atmosphere. Ask yourself if you could see yourself living there. Often decisions come down to whether or not you get a ‘good feeling’ about the options you are considering.

  • People make a big difference to a retirement village. Does the village community exude a warm and inviting feeling, from both staff and residents?
  • Talk to residents and staff – this is the best way to obtain an honest and real account of village life?
  • Can you navigate your way around the village easily – is there ample signage?
  • Is the village convenient to transport, shopping centres and community amenities?
  • Does the village provide a bus or van for outings?
  • Are the grounds and gardens well maintained and available for you to enjoy?
  • Does the village provide quality amenities such as a heated swimming pool, spa, bowling green, café, cinema, hair and beauty salon or a gym?
  • Are the facilities modern and in good working order?
  • Are emergency generators installed in the aged-care centre, village centre and serviced apartments in case of an emergency?

Villas & apartments

Moving into a retirement village often means that you will be downsizing. The beauty of this is you will be simplifying your life, creating more time to enjoy the things you love.

  • Has each unit been designed with the 65+ person in mind?
  • Are units modern and spacious, with well-equipped kitchens, quality bench tops, well-appointed ensuites and plenty of storage?
  • Are units energy efficient – insulated, double glazed, include air conditioning?
  • Do units provide a pleasant outlook – beautiful views, a balcony, terrace, or a garden outlook?
  • Is maintenance included in your weekly fee – exterior maintenance, lawn mowing, window cleaning?

Menus and dining

Trying before you buy is an absolute must when considering a retirement village. The proof will indeed be in the pudding! Studies show that coming together for a meal promotes a feeling of connection. Which in turn promotes well-being and increases nutritional intake.

  • Do menus provide choice?
  • Is there consideration for special dietary requirements?
  • Do menus change with the seasons?
  • Are meals prepared fresh on-site by a village chef?
  • Does the village invite you to join them for a meal to sample the menu?

Activities & entertainment

One of the benefits of moving into a retirement village is making the most of the activities and social aspects of village life.

  • Is there a dedicated program for activities, entertainment and outings?
  • Is there an additional cost associated with these programs?
  • Are activities and entertainment adjusted to cater for different levels of physical ability?
  • Are aspects of the program diversified to engage a variety of interests – men’s club, creativity through art and crafts, bowling tournaments, interaction and fun with music, or puzzles and games for intellectual stimulation?
  • Is participation optional?

Fees & guarantees

This is where you will discover that not all retirement villages are made the same. It’s a good idea to shop around, to compare what different providers have to offer. That way you can relax knowing you’ve made the right decision for you and your family.

  • Are terms and conditions written in plain language, so they are easy to understand?
  • What percentage is the deferred management fee (DMF) and is it capped – for example, Ryman's DMF is capped at 20 percent?
  • Is the base weekly fee fixed for the entire time you occupy your unit?
  • Does the village provide a full range of care options if your needs change – residential aged care (low care, high care) and specialist dementia care – all within the same village community?
  • Do village staff sit down with you to explain contracts and fees?
  • Do fees stop immediately when you vacate your apartment or villa - base weekly fee and DMF?
  • How long will you have to wait until you are repaid your capital once your apartment or villa is vacated – for example, 6 months?
  • Are you exposed to any capital loss when the apartment or townhouse is resold?
  • Does the village allow for a ‘cooling off period?’ Will your deposit be refunded?
  • Does the village provide a 90-day money-back guarantee?

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