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Retirement living: what are the real keys to happiness?

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Retired or thinking of retirement? Well, you know there are some big questions you have to answer. And one of the ones we hear most is ‘can retirement living make me happy?’.

So let’s look at this question as part of the bigger picture… What exactly are the benefits of a retirement village, versus residential living?

Many people are attracted to the variety activities and social benefits available with retirement living; no matter where you live, each village is different but activities can stretch from lawn bowls to ballroom dancing, getting active in a men’s shed, getting fit at aqua aerobics, yoga or pilates, or getting happy at regular happy hours.

While the benefits of being connected to a close-knit community are obvious, it is the more intangible knock-on health, social and wellbeing effects that bring the most benefit to retirement village living. Whether you choose to participate in all the activities or not, it is comforting to know you are always welcome to be included. This reduces feelings of social isolation as well as negative emotions like boredom and depression.

Added to this is the peace of mind from knowing you are in a safe and secure environment, surrounded by neighbours who can look out for you; like-minded neighbours who are of a similar demographic (no worries about bikie gangs or all-night parties next door!). Having 24-hour emergency care available at the press of a button is also a very significant contributing factor to residents’ level of safety.

Of course, moving out of the family home and into retirement living means that all those weekends spent on home maintenance and upkeep can now be spent enjoying the things you have been looking forward to – travel, going to the cinema, gardening and volunteering are popular pastimes for retirees.

So why not just downsize and move into an apartment? There are many new apartment developments that claim to be built for the senior’s lifestyle, but it’s worth checking to see if any of the ones you may be interested are actually compliant with the Accessible Housing Code.

This means they’ve been built not just with affordability in mind, but with their practical living needs. The Code requires things like doorways being extra wide to accommodate future accessibility needs if a resident needs a wheelchair, easy access to units, and guidelines around fittings, switches and other hardware.

Without these, you may find yourself needing to fork out on big renovations as you grow older and your accessibility needs change. Retirement village homes already have these factors built in, so ageing in place can occur in comfort and safety.

Retirement village operators St Ives Retirement Living recently surveyed 460 of their retirement households to find out how their residents felt about retirement village living.

St Ives resident hobbies

What keeps our residents busy?

Of these, 95% said they were at least as happy, if not happier, than they were before they moved in. 97% said they felt safer, or as safe as before moving in, and 91% said they felt more connected to their community and socially active.

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So, when you add it all up, retirement village living does mean a healthier, happier lifestyle – just like in all those ads! And who doesn’t want that?

The most important thing is to do your research, including booking a tour at a number of retirement villages to find the one that’s right for you. And before you make any decision, be sure to talk to an independent financial advisor.