As we grow older buying a retirement home can be one of the most important decisions we ever make. It should be a step that assures us of contentment and dignity in the years ahead. The ‘Golden Years’ should be just that, years of enjoying the rewards of a lifetime of hard work. This is the time when adults get time for fun!

Are you ready to move?

Unfortunately, most of us tend to put off even thinking about purchasing a home for our old age simply because we can’t face the fact that we are getting older. We overlook signs that are probably staring us in the face.

Your Present Home

The once pristine family home is looking shabby. The roof is leaking, the windows won’t close, the plumbing is erratic and the security gate hasn’t shut for years. The garden is a jungle and you don’t know what’s in the top cupboard in the bedroom because you’re a bit shaky on the stepladder now, not to mention the fact that you have to bath during daylight because you can’t change the light bulb!

Recognise any of the above? Your present home has now become a burden and before it deteriorates any further, it’s time to move on!

Medical Requirements

Retirement complexes generally have certain medical standards, which require potential members to be relatively fit and able to care for themselves. Leave it too late and perhaps one of you won’t qualify for the more reasonably priced villages: these tend to be retirement complexes without frail care on the property, although the facility may be available elsewhere through the same or an affiliated organisation. If one of you should fail the medical you could be faced with a real dilemma, for the organisation needs to know what will happen to the surviving spouse in the event of the caregiver’s death. Is there enough money to pay for 24 hour nursing care at home? And if not, who is going to be responsible for the frail care costs? It is preferable to bypass all these potential problems by moving into a retirement community while both of you are in reasonable health.


There is no need to dwell on how vulnerable we are to attacks in our homes. A well-run retirement complex will prioritise the security of its residents.

Death of a Partner

This is the saddest reason of all to move. The decision to move should ideally be made by a couple rather than by a grieving spouse. Nothing is more devastating than having to move after the death of a beloved partner. The packing up of a lifetime of memories, the search for affordable accommodation, the critical decisions to make alone, all compound the grief and loneliness one is already experiencing.

Family Concerns

You may think you’re not ready to move at this stage, but your situation may unwittingly be a cause of real concern for your family. Perhaps they see what you won’t: that you are a vulnerable couple, totally reliant on the family should things go wrong. The family may not always be there in an emergency, whereas in a retirement complex someone should be on call 24 hours a day.

Age Restrictions

Different complexes may have different age restrictions. Some won’t take anyone over the age of 80 years. An experienced property agent will help you with this information.

Remember – at this stage of your life, the greatest gift a parent can give a child is that parent’s own independence.