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Open days are the perfect opportunity to get a feel for a village, but can be overwhelming – especially if you are unprepared. There are so many things to be thinking about, and making the right choice considers all of them. Who needs that stress! Visiting a village ought to be a fun experience for you and your family, so it is important to arrive with a few questions, and priorities in mind. Today we are going to walk you through some of the main things to think about on your next open day.
Consider how important each of these factors is, as it will be different for everyone. Perhaps your dream location doesn’t have a library nearby, or doesn’t allow for pets. Identifying your priorities will help you find the village best for you.
Close to the city or in view of the sea, location is one of the most important considerations. Not only does the location of a village change the amenities available, but also the feel and spirit of the community. On your journey to the open day, look around and see if it would be a place you could imagine yourself living. Additionally:
⬜ Proximity to friends or family: Do you have friends or family members nearby? Having friends and family close makes visiting easier, and ensures you retain those essential bonds. Plus, it is so much easier to pop round theirs for a cuppa when they are just down the road.
⬜ What’s in the area: Depending on your interests, it’s a good idea to ask about what there is in the immediate area. For example, check if there is a swimming pool, a cafe or supermarket in walking or short driving distance. Cinefile? Check for a local cinema. (Many local cinemas have great deals!)
⬜ Community activities: Do you love your current book club? Check whether you can continue with your current community activities, or if there are good alternatives. Most libraries have well established book clubs that are always happy for new members.
⬜ Beaches, walking spaces, or other attractions: Do you love the sea? Perhaps no Sunday is complete without a bush walk. Nature makes up so much of our lives, and can be essential for mental health. Following your site visit, it is a good idea to have a walk or drive around to see the natural attractions.
One of the biggest selling points of a village is their facilities and amenities. When considering a village, it is important to see the facilities they offer and ask your guide questions about them. If you are a keen reader, ask if they have a library. Or if you can’t go a Saturday without your morning swim, ask about a pool.
⬜ Do the facilities reflect what you enjoy, and are you excited about them?
⬜ Are they of a high standard? Ask your guide about when they were built, and how frequently they are updated. It is important, especially with health equipment, that they are well maintained.
⬜ Would they be easily accessible from your apartment? Check if they are far, or ramp accessible
⬜ Are there outdoor spaces? Places for coffee, chats and games are core to many’s enjoyment and socialisation. Are there places to lap up the summer sun, or join the grandkids for a game of footy?
Is there room for friends and family?
Something many people worry about when joining a village is whether friends and family are able to visit, and stay. Remember, your village apartment is still your home! Check what the policy for guests is while on your visit. Highgrove Village, for example, welcomes all short-term guests so you can have friends, family or loved ones with you whenever you wish.
⬜ Can friends and family stay over? And if so, for how long. Ask your guide what their policy is, and what the process of having visitors is.
⬜ Are there multiple bedroom apartment options? Consider if there is a guest bedroom option for friends, family, or a snoring husband!
A good retirement village will grow and adapt with you, and that includes offering various transport options. Whether you drive or are a public transport aficionado, examine how your retirement village is connected to city centers, supermarkets, or any of your favourite places.
⬜ Car: Are there plenty of safe car parks, for yourself and any guests? Think about the road, and whether it is difficult to drive around in the surrounding area.
⬜ Bus: Public transport is a great alternative to driving – and is very economical with your SuperGold card! Ask what the options are, and if there are bus stops nearby. Consider how far you would have to bus to get to the doctors or supermarket. If you are still unsure, go on a trial journey from the village, to the bus stop, and to your destination.
⬜ Van: Vans are a wonderful way for residents to travel with the village. Some villages, including Highgrove, have weekly van trips to the supermarket and malls. Ask your guide whether the village has a van, what the costs are, and how full they get.
Can I bring my pet?
⬜ Pet policy: We know how important keeping your pet can be! Every retirement village has a different policy regarding pets, with some banned with no exceptions, while others have a more flexible approach.
Perhaps most critically, how do you feel walking through the village? Our residents describe their first visit as coming home, and it just ‘felt right’. How do you feel when you walk through the village, and would you be excited to call it home?
⬜ Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel relaxed and at home?
⬜ Can you talk to the residents: One of the best ways to determine is a place is for you is by talking to the current residents! No one knows a village better than those that live there. Ask them about their experience, and whether they are still happy with their choice, months or years down the track.
⬜ Does it feel like your space? Before making your final decision, ask yourself whether you can see yourself living there now, and in 5 years time.
There are lots of things to think about when visiting a retirement village for the first time. We hope that with this guide you will find the village of your dreams.
If you need help with your retirement planning or would like to visit Highgrove, please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you!