Despite what the name might suggest, few of us get to live in our ‘forever home’ until the very end.
For some people, it’s the realisation that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to home maintenance, or that they’d prefer to live closer to family, while for others, a health condition can send them in search of a greater level of care than is available at home.
Whatever the reason, downsizing from the family home can be a big emotional wrench.
As a 2014 study by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute found, a desire to ‘age in place’ was the reason two-thirds of older Aussies chose not to move from their family home – which makes the decision to sell up a momentous one.
But moving to a retirement village can make the transition to a smaller home easier, because the new residence comes with peace of mind and a sense of community.
For example, Stockland offers secure, gated communities, so that even if you choose to live entirely independently in one of its communities around Australia, you know that the village itself has an extensive security system that limits access and monitors activity, as well as wide, well-lit roads and pathways and a 24-hour emergency call system with staff on hand at all times.
That’s in addition to the watchful eyes of a close-knit group of neighbours and workers.
All of this means that disappearing for a month or two on a Grey Nomad-style adventure can be done with the knowledge that your home is in safe hands. Even your mail is collected for you!
The decision to downsize can often be driven by the increased care needs of one partner in a relationship, which is undoubtedly a high-stress situation.
That’s why many retirement village providers cater for this tricky situation by combining their village community with higher-care facilities such as serviced apartments or nursing homes on the same site.
Choosing a serviced apartment means that you can continue living independently in a self-contained villa or apartment, while having access to a range of health, personal and home care services for your partner.
Government-funded Home Care Packages can be used to help cover the cost of these services, which can include having meals delivered and laundry done, as well as providing access to a 24-hour emergency help line.
If your partner’s care needs are greater than can be accommodated in a serviced apartment, they can choose to live in the nursing home-style facilities, while the other stays in an independent living home on the same site, combining care and independence in a way that would be much more difficult in the wider community.
Stockland, for example, partners with Opal Aged Care, a leading specialist aged care provider that delivers permanent, respite and dementia-specific care to provide high quality ages care where possible within its retirement communities.
There’s no doubt that downsizing to a retirement village is a big step, but additional peace of mind is available via trial-period accommodation and change-of-mind money-back guarantees offered by a small number of community providers.
Stockland offers free trials at some of its villages, so you can live in village accommodation to ensure the community is to your liking before making a purchase.
After buying in to a village, if at any point in the first six months of residence you decide that a retirement village or that location isn’t for you, the money you paid Stockland will be refunded in full (you’ll remain responsible for paying fees to third parties, such as your removal company, solicitor, and utilities companies for the utilities you used during your residence).
As Graham Hill, the creator of Life Edited and a downsizing evangelist, has said in TED Talks and many media appearances, most people find that once they’re used to their downsized life, they’re much happier than they were in a bigger home.
“Every less cubic foot of air means less to clean, heat, cool, insure and move,” he told CNN. “The more space, the more complex your life gets.”
Have you considered moving to a smaller home? Would living in a retirement village suit you?