How do you choose the right retirement estate?

7 things to consider when finding your ideal retirement living

If you’ve decided it’s the right time to move into a retirement estate, you’ve probably done quite a bit of research. You’ll know a bit about costs; something about the different management structures available; and perhaps you’ve taken a “virtual tour” or two online.

But with all the information and choices available to you, it’s understandable if you’re starting to feel a little overwhelmed!

One way to help you sort through all this information and decide what’s important to you, is to make a list. You might be familiar with this method from when you made other big life decisions; such as buying a home, choosing a car, or deciding on an overseas holiday destination for example.


You can divide your list into four groups, with the things you:

  • Definitely must have
  • Would like to have
  • Don’t really care about
  • Definitely do not want

How does this system work? Well for example, when you and your spouse were still working, you might have felt a two car garage was a ‘definitely must have’; while now it’s in the ‘don’t really care about’ pile.

If you felt that a swimming pool was ‘all too much trouble’ at your family home, now it might be a ‘would like to have’ when it’s maintained by the staff at a retirement estate. And so on and on, for you and your partner.

In this news post, the Kensington Gardens team suggest a few of the different ‘categories’ that you may wish to take into account when you’re weighing up your retirement living options.

1) Where would you like to live?

This one’s top of the list for a reason. Clearly, it’s one of the first things you’ll have to decide on – taking into account where your friends and family live; what environment you’re looking for; and whether you want to be “close to the action” near the city or somewhere you can enjoy the peace and quiet. 

Think about whether you’ll still be driving in a few years’ time, or whether you ‘definitely must have’ access to good public transport.

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2) What type of home do you want to live in?

Another very important decision is the style of living accommodation on offer. Would you ‘like to have’ a small, easy-to-maintain unit, or do you ‘need to have’ space for visitors to come and stay?

Is an architecturally designed home a non-negotiable for you? And on that topic, is the ability to choose your own home design a ‘must have’ for you? Or would you be happy enough to live in a retirement estate that takes a more “cookie cutter” approach to home design? 

Inside your home, what’s important to you in terms of layout, fixtures and fittings? What about ducted air conditioning and heating? Is a fully fitted out new kitchen a non-negotiable – or do you intend to dine out more, now that you're enjoying your retirement?

3) What about the retirement estate rules?

For most people, one of the attractions of retirement estate living is that, unlike a home in the suburbs, residents agree to be bound by a set of rules governing behaviour and other issues. It helps to prevent any problems with noisy neighbours, unruly parties, and unkempt properties among other things.

However, it pays to check whether these same rules conflict with some of your ‘must haves’. For example, will the retirement estate let you bring your beloved “Deefer” with you – or are pets strictly prohibited? Can your family come and stay with you for a while, or is the estate strictly for residents only?

Rules at retirement estates will vary greatly, so do your research first and make sure you understand the rules that will affect you.

4) What amenities would you like to have access to?

Of course, another big drawcard for retirement estate living is having access to all the facilities which are available for residents. It’s another factor which varies greatly from estate to estate, so it’s worth checking out in some detail. 

If you’re a movie buff, having on on-site cinema could be a ‘must have’ for you. If you love entertaining the grandkids, it could be ‘nice to have’ a children’s playground for when they visit. 

You get the idea – it’s the same process for everything which today’s resort-style retirement accommodation can offer, whether that’s a gym, swimming pool, tennis court, caravan storage, computer facilities or a residents’ library.

Imagine a ‘day in the life’ of your new community, and you’ll soon get a feel for which amenities you won’t be able to live without.

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5) What about the retirement estate’s management and staff?

Retirement estates have many different ownership setups; from being part of a large national group of companies to being a smaller family-owned business. You might think that doesn’t really affect you; yet it can influence your dealings with the estate employees.

For example, is it important to you that the estate has staff on-site 24 hours? Does the manager really care about residents’ wellbeing, or is “just a job” to them?

Even if management starts out on your ‘don’t really care about’ list, once you’ve enjoyed a great team who work to make a difference to the community, you’ll think they’re a ‘must have’.

6) What services and support are included in your fees?

Not only will your monthly fees vary from estate to estate, but they’ll cover different things too. Is maintenance of your home important to you, or just something that’d be ‘nice to have’? 

Do you want to have council rates and water charges included in your fee for convenience, or is this not important to you? Do you still get around in your own car, or is an estate bus to take you shopping a ‘must have’?

All of these questions – and many more – may occur to you as you tour various retirement estates. 

7) The ‘intangible’ things

Last but certainly not least, if possible you should consider all the intangibles; the qualities that are difficult to put your finger on but that make such a difference to your lifestyle.

We’re talking about the type of people who live in the retirement estate; the ‘spirit’ and life outlook they share; and the way they work together to create a community.

It’s difficult to quantify, but it’s definitely worth some thought. Touring your retirement estate options in person can help to give you an idea of these intangibles, and show you which ones deserve to be on your ‘must have’ list. 

Like to see more of what a retirement estate can offer?

If you’re thinking of joining or Albury and Shepparton retirement communities, we’d love to meet you. Arrange your personal tour by calling us at Albury on 02 6049 3100 or Shepparton on 03 5820 5100, or get in touch with the contact form here.

What to look for in a home for retirement