What price peace of mind? By Jane Slade
Guest Blog: Jane Slade, founder of the retirement property website retiremove.co.uk
Nothing has created more uncertainty recently than the rise in the cost of living. Soaring gas and electricity bills, rocketing interest rates, double-digit pay demands and ‘greedflation’ on groceries have made us all rein in our spending.
The amount of pensionable income spent maintaining a traditional home is frightening - starting with quarterly energy bills, annual insurance for exterior and contents, the weekly cleaner/gardener, yearly boiler inspections, ad-hoc home repairs, home security, and upgrading fixtures and fittings. And then there is the roof …
Our biggest ongoing financial commitment is our home. People sublimely accept that this is the price they must pay to live independently. But it needn’t be. How many of us have calculated how much we would save if we downsized to a retirement community?
The cost of living in a brand new, modern apartment such as those at Shiplake Meadows, a luxurious retirement development in Henley-on-Thames designed for independent living, is incomparable to keeping the draughts out of a Victorian house.
Modern buildings like Shiplake use sustainable materials that are good for the environment and your pocket. Shiplake’s energy strategy ethos is ‘be lean, be clean, be green’.
Shiplake Meadows, a community of 65 homes with a wealth of fabulous facilities centred around a clubhouse in six and a half acres of grounds in rural Oxfordshire, exceeds current building regulations for energy efficiency.
By using the latest technology air source heat pumps combined with super insulation and air tightness, Shiplake’s energy strategy has the potential to reduce home energy costs and CO2 emissions. It aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 60 per cent and lower energy costs by 50 per cent compared to standard gas-fired homes.
Scott Curran, Director of retirement specialists Probitas, adds “not only are the properties highly sustainable and require less energy compared to a traditional family home, but the annual running costs of the operations within the communal clubhouse are also highly sustainable by using local supplies and businesses within 10 miles of the village.”
The development, which is designed for those who want to live later-life to the fullest, will also provide eco-friendly transportation options, including a residents’ taxi service. There will be cycle bays and car parking spaces with electric vehicle charging. Sharing costs among fellow homeowners will keep bills low, too.
The price of maintaining a retirement apartment will obviously be less than running a large home – but then you are not paying to insure and heat rooms and spaces that are barely used. Most retirement communities like Shiplake Meadows have guest suites, so you only need the right size home with the exact number of bedrooms to suit your needs. That’s not to say that all costs in a retirement community are negligible. There is the expense of staff, which can include carers and nurses if extra support is needed.
But can you put a price on peace of mind? How much is it worth for you to feel safe, secure, and looked after if need be?
Imagine feeling free from worry, knowing maintenance issues are taken care of, that a phone call to reception is all that’s needed to fix the TV, reboot the router after the Internet has gone down, or move a heavy item of furniture after you have dropped your wallet down the back.
Moving to a retirement community is about future-proofing your life. Have you considered what it may cost to add a ramp to your existing front door? Or a stair lift, walk-in bath, wider doorways, and all those unsightly grab bars you will need as you and your partner age and become less mobile.
All retirement operators have to be transparent about their charges. Quality operators like Probitas, which run integrated retirement communities (IRCs) like Shiplake Meadows, will be members of the registered body ARCO (Associated Retirement Communities Operators).
Even so, you still need to do your due diligence and ask the right questions. For most, moving to a retirement property is the last move they want to make. You don’t want to make a mistake.
Some operators offer buyer incentives, such as providing a complementary decluttering service, free removals, and even buying the home you are trying to sell.
The best way to find out if retirement living is right for you is to visit one or two retirement communities and talk to the people who live there. They will probably tell you they wish they had moved sooner!