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Money & Rights

Looking for a retirement home

5 questions to ask yourself when looking round for a potential home for retirement

Cathy Johnson, Senior Community Living Advisor at MHA Auchlochan Garden Village

As more and more of us are choosing to downsize into more manageable properties when we retire, the question of how to choose the right one is becoming increasingly pertinent. After all- with many of us now enjoying retirement into our 80s, 90s and beyond, our 'forever home' has to continue to be perfect for us for several decades.

With so much choice out there, it can sometimes feel difficult to know when you've found the right property. Here are five questions to ask before you take the plunge.

1) Is the location right for you?

This one's a biggie! If you've always dreamed of moving to a new location, retirement could be the perfect time to do it and lots more free time means you'll be able to properly make the most of your new surroundings.

The retirees I work with at MHA Auchlochan in Lanarkshire have often spent years previously thinking about a time when they'll finally be able to move to their countryside retreats. Equally, for some people, being in the hustle and bustle of a city is what they're looking for in later life. There's no right way to retire, it's about what's right for you.

2) Will it adapt with you as you age?

Whilst it can sometimes be uncomfortable to think about, it's important to consider what life might be like if you become less able as you get older. As well as the physicality of the house- stairs, wide doorways, whether the oven and other appliances are conveniently placed, the bathroom facilities etc.- it's also good to have a think about care provisions nearby. 

Would it be easy to have carers come to your home or to have help around the house, for example? Although those needs might seem like a long way off, taking time to consider them now could save hassle and heartache in the long run.

3) Will you be able to manage the move?

Moving home is difficult at any age- research shows it's one of the most stressful life events you can experience. And, particularly when downsizing, the emotional and practical parts of the move can be hard.

So, looking at the move support which is available to you should be a priority when choosing you home for later life. Retirement developments and villages will normally have people in place to guide you through the legalities as well as help with the physical move itself. Be sure you know what's available to you- and that you make the most of the services on offer!

4) Is there a strong community of neighbours?

Whether you're moving to a new place or staying in your current area, having friendly like-minded people around you can make settling into your new home much easier.

It's really comforting to know that if you don't make it to a coffee date with a friend or miss our usual game of bowls, that you'll be missed. And being able to nip around to a neighbour's for a natter and a cup of tea is one of life's little pleasures that it would be a shame to miss out on.

5) Will it enable you to be social and active?

Usually, with a strong community comes opportunities to do things with friends, old and new. And, after all, now that you've got some extra free time, you're going to want to use it to do the things you enjoy!

Have a look at the clubs and social groups near to your potential new home too- can you see yourself getting involved in them? Why not drop in for a couple of sessions to see if you like the feel. Many retirees I work with find that, in retirement, they're more sociable than ever- what a wonderful way to spend your golden years!

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