There’s more to choosing a retirement village than price, location, and facilities. A retirement village will be your new home, so it’s important to choose somewhere that feels like home.
“Culture is one of the most important factors to consider when buying into a retirement village,” says Village Guide founder Paula Bishop.
“Every retirement village has a unique culture that is influenced by the people who live and work there. The challenge is to find the village culture that’s right for you.”
Here are some tips for choosing a retirement village culture that aligns with your values.
The culture of a retirement village is often unspoken. It’s more of a collective feeling than a list of specific traits.
Pay attention to that ‘feeling’ you get when you visit a village. Do you feel welcome, comfortable, and hopeful? Are the staff and residents friendly? Do you feel like you’ve found ‘your people’? Can you imagine making genuine friendships here?
Ros Martin, Village Manager at The Falls Lifestyle Estate in Whangarei, advises prospective residents to pay attention to both their head and their heart.
“Choose a village as much from your heart as your head,” she says.
“You have to know you will ‘fit’ into the village you choose.”
The best person to tell you about a retirement village’s culture is someone who already lives there.
“Talk to other residents already here,” advises Ross Bisset, Village Manager of Ashwood Park in Blenheim.
Mr Bisset adds that one of the most common misconceptions people have about moving into a retirement village is “the feel” -- that it won’t feel like a place to call home.
By spending time with current residents, you’ll get an insight to the feel of the village and be able to visualise what it’s like to live there.
Talk to the village manager to see if there are any opportunities for you to involve yourself in village life.
For example, you might be welcome to enjoy a meal at the village restaurant. Or perhaps the village has some facilities open to the public, such as a walking track or swimming pool.
The best way to experience village life is to attend an Open Day. Most villages have regular Open Days throughout the year. Keep an eye on our Open Day page to find upcoming days at a village near you.
It’s important to take your time to get to know the culture before you make an investment. After all, you’ll become a part of the culture once you live there.
“Make sure you have all the information and facts before entering,” says Donna Monk, Village Manager of Elmswood Retirement Village and Fendalton Retirement Village in Christchurch.
Village staff will be on-hand to assist with your application and answer any questions you might have, but only you can decide if a village’s culture is a good fit for you and your family.
Take your time, check in with your intuition, talk to residents, involve yourself in village life, and give yourself space to reflect.
Once you’ve found the right village, your only regret will be that you didn’t find it sooner.
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