The first 50 days: From moving to the joy of a new lifestyle
Contracts to sign. Fees to pay. Solicitors to engage. Movers to coordinate. There’s no denying that selling and moving house is an epic task – and when you’re about to start a new life in a retirement village, there’s even more to think about.
It’s a big decision, but one that will ultimately have life-enhancing consequences once you downsize, move into a ready-made community and immerse yourself in a completely new, fully-fledged lifestyle.
This is something that Ian and Jenny Hansen experienced first-hand, after their family home in Maleny, Queensland, with its expansive yard, became increasingly challenging to maintain. “Nothing grows like it grows in Maleny. I’d have to mow three times a fortnight in the summer,” says 77-year-old Ian. “Like a lot of people our age, we started thinking about downsizing when we started having health issues,” adds 75-year-old Jenny. “We wanted to be near family – we have a daughter who lives and works in Bundaberg – and also have medical help close to hand.”
It was Jenny and Ian’s daughter in Bundaberg who found their unit at The Lakes. “We hadn’t actually considered living in a retirement village. We were looking at private, independent units, but none of them were as good as what we have now – and they were all more expensive,” says Jenny.
“To be honest, our kids were a little bit worried as they’d heard the stories about retirement villages,” she adds. “Of course, there’s an ongoing expense living in a retirement village, but we looked at everything; the fees and contracts, and it all seemed fine as far as we were concerned. At our age, we’re happy to pay an exit fee. We’re not going anywhere. We signed the contract, and there were no problems at all.”
Making the move
The physical task of moving your belongings from one home to the next (and then having to unpack them) is not meant to be fun, but Jenny and Ian got through it without much ado. “Moving was a big deal, but it all went fairly smoothly,” says Jenny. “It took us a couple of weeks to get the garage clear enough to fit the car in, but we’ve got it all sorted now. We like the unit. It’s much smaller than what we were used to, but we have absolutely everything we need here.” Ian adds, “I don’t have to worry about mowing the lawns any more. All the lawns and hedges are trimmed for you here, there’s no hard work at all.”
Having lived at The Lakes for little more than seven weeks, the couple are already well into the swing of village life – and the initial welcome they received confirmed their decision to move in. “The people who run the village are so friendly, and they’ve been very generous. When we arrived, they gave us a voucher to attend the social dinner they throw monthly, and we’ve already been invited out to lunch to discuss any problems we might have,” says Jenny. “Neighbours on both sides have come over to say hello and introduce themselves. We haven’t seen much of them since, but that’s because we’ve been coming and going all the time! I like knowing we can do that and the place is always secure.”
New neighbours, new lifestyle
One of the major drawcards of retirement living is the already established community – the sense of camaraderie and support amongst residents.
“At the first social dinner we went to, Ian met a bowler and he’s since played bowls a couple of times with the same fellow,” says Jenny. “We both went to bingo last Tuesday, I’ve got craft and painting groups I go to and there’s a group of men Ian met who he plays snooker with now too. It’s lovely.”
“The most important thing [when moving to a retirement village] is to do your research, look around and find the place that’s right for you. Think about the facilities you want, what suits you financially and any other needs you may have,” she adds. “There haven’t been any negatives for us since we moved in. The management here are so helpful, the people here are all friends, we’ve had great entertainment and there’s a nice atmosphere. It ticks all the boxes for us. We can’t ask for anything more.”
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