Insights gathered from retirees suggest taking some of these key factors into account when weighing up the options.
Insights gathered from retirees suggest taking some of these key factors into account when weighing up the options.

Top tips on when and how to retire

DECIDING how and when to retire is one of the biggest decisions in life

What does retirement look like? Do people have a plan for exploring new interests and learning new skills, catching up with old friends and making new ones, or travel?

These are big considerations so it's important to start planning early - research shows people who start planning at least two years before the big day have a happier retirement.

A large part of this decision is choosing where people would like to live. Will they stay in the family home or downsize to a retirement village?

Insights gathered from retirees suggest taking the following factors into account when weighing up the options.

Lifestyle: What lifestyle do people want in retirement? Do they imagine a community connected through shared facilities and social activities or isolation? Andrew Plant, who lives at The Village Yeronga, described the lifestyle as just fantastic. "You don't have to drive to the gym, so there's no excuse, and it's open 24 hours a day," he said. "The heated pool is open 24 hours a day and your grandchildren can do laps with you." To get a feel for the lifestyle, attend a residents' expo, and talk to retirees that live in a village.

Maintenance: Do people want to renovate their family home or live somewhere smaller where there is less maintenance? Downsizing gives people time to follow their interests and hobbies or travel instead of mowing lawns and up keeping a large home. With less daily chores, people have more time to relax and do what they enjoy.

Location: Retirees unanimously advised a "Location, location, location" search for the right location. Do people want to be closer to family, near a big hospital, near parklands or stay in the same community they love? Consider where additional care, if needed in the future, is located - ideally, it will be very close to their independent living.

Social: Would people like easy access to fellowship and friendship through social events, happy hours, choir, craft, cards, and many more activities? Leslie Turner juggles gym, aqua aerobics, yoga and tai chi classes every week, as well as regular mahjong games, along with trips to the theatre and catching up with friends outside The Village Redcliffe.

Financial: Downsizing to a village can give finances a boost and free up money for travel, topping up super or a new car. Justin Harrison, managing director at The Village Retirement Group, said people should look for retirement villages that priced their homes affordably and who deferred their profit until people sold. "Beware of parks who charge you their profit upfront in the purchase price," he said. "Villages that defer their profit have a vested interest in keeping the village as great as it looks now."

Ongoing fees: How do people protect themselves against unknown fees? State Government legislation protects people in retirement villages against fees being changed without their knowledge. "Beware of retirement communities that do not offer you legislative protection against rising fees," Mr Harrison said.

Facilities: Do people want to feel they are on a holiday all year? The Village Yeronga resident Ann Warren said it was not a retirement village, it was a resort. "Living at The Village is just like a holiday," Ron Hobman said. He used to work in paint manufacturing and selling truck accessories. "We're that busy - we go to the gym, play bowls, play darts, and go on bus trips. I've got to have a diary to make time to go fishing. It's shocking, I tell you."

Family: How do people involve their family? What will the family think? "Our son and daughter think moving into The Village Yeronga is the best thing to happen to us," Mr Hobman said. "They think we're so much more alive now, and we are really enjoying our life more."

Safety: Would people like to lock up and travel? A community where everyone looks out for each other and they can lock up and go away knowing their home is safe and secure is what most retirees are searching for. "You have neighbours close by who care about you and your home," Mrs Turner said.

Community: Do people want to downsize to a block of apartments or be part of a community? A Harvard study found people who were socially connected to family, friends and community were happier, physically healthier and lived longer than those who were not so well connected. "A block of units has nothing and you don't know who is in the flat next to you," Mr Plant said. "In the village, you will know everyone is a similar age and is an owner just like you."

Ultimately, retirement is a personal decision. People need to take their time, do lots of research, tour villages to discover options, meet people who live in a village and ask the salesperson all their questions until they know what retirement looks like for them.

The rest of their life depends on it.


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