The right time to move

When is the right time to move into a retirement village? It’s an age old question.

The answer, of course, is never! We never believe we are old enough; there are too many more functions still to be held in the home where you have grown your children – the next birthday; grandchild’s 21st … just one more Christmas, er, we’ll make that one more Easter!

Being sensible you’ve made all the plans – but they’re supposed to be way off in the future. After all, the last thing on earth you’d want is for a decision about where you spend your dotage to be left to your family. The one in Australia will want you to go there. Another of your off-spring says you should go into a flat or move in with them. Everyone has so much advice, and it simply isn’t what you want to hear.

Is it when you’ve had a fall or an unexpected illness, or suddenly have lost your partner?

The right time to move is when your husband is fed up with the maintenance on a four-bedroom house. A house, full to capacity only once every second or third Christmas, when it’s ‘your turn’. Meantime there’s the upkeep.

One thing for sure, you know you cannot live in the suburbs and become a soft target for opportunistic thieves or intruders. So ask yourself, how much of your pension do you want to spend on upkeep, maintenance, security, staff, gardeners, and the like. And, how much time do you want to spend caged behind security gates and burglar bars.

It’s a lifestyle thing.

I was 65. We had our three dogs, whose lifespan was expected to stretch at least a further five years. So emotionally I was settled about my future. I’d be 70 – young enough to move when the time came.

Life doesn’t always happen the way it is planned. Firstly a home invasion upset the apple cart. It was brutal but we got over it. Two years later, a cycling accident re-arranged my husband’s skeleton for the second time – he tried to make love to a rock in an off-road event. He may well have fared better had he taken on a gorilla. Then, the recovery, slow and agonising. Broken bones really hurt. When you’re strapped from shoulder to toe, the last thing you want to deal with is a broken washer in the loo. Then, because all the loos in the house were installed at the same time, you know if one washer goes there’ll be three others in quick succession. Same as the strip lights in the kitchen – perching on top of a chair or a small ladder, with a shoulder brace on trying to replace a neon strip, is probably a good time to take stock of your circumstances.

As a very reluctant mover into a retirement village, I still say there is no good time to move but there is a better time to move. Better, when you feel excited about your new environment. When you are well enough to select carefully your favourite pieces of furniture and wall hangings. Stuff you choose to keep when you down-size. Better than best, is when you are feeling well enough to enjoy it all, and even better than that, when you still have each other to enjoy your new environment with.

The time is right when you have moved, found wonderful new neighbours, know you are as safe as you can be and have 30 different activities from which to choose. And, let’s face it, to simply relax in your retirement years. To do as much or as little as you want.

Firmly established residents will tell you when people move too late. It’s when one or other partner is not well, or the stress of the move becomes too much and illness follows, and sadly, sometimes death.

Everyone is different, everyone has their own tale to tell. While emotionally we personally are never ready for this ‘move of a lifetime’, don’t leave it too late. You have never lived till you have lived in a close-knit community, that is abuzz with activity and fun, with people in your own age-group, like-minded interests and similar financial standing. From street parties to elegant shows, table tennis, snooker, golf, tennis and bowls. You’ll have time to take art classes, dance classes, join garden clubs, bridge clubs, take part in life in general and living in particular.

Do I recommend life in a village? I recommend life in a Hibiscus Retirement Village. It’s where your neighbours have the same sort of issues – their children – some live further away than others. It’s a delight to have them visit, and a delight when they go. Your bond strengthens when they are no longer worried about Gran and Gramps. Besides, you can lock up and go. Go visit the family, or simply tour the country or fly off overseas.

So, the best time to move into a retirement establishment is never – never, if you are not lucky enough to enjoy senior years. Getting old means getting wrinkles and rearranged bodies. It means feeling a bit insecure at times too. So the minute one little bit of insecurity creeps into your life, that’s the time to move. When you are young enough to keep your old friends but happy enough to make new. When you are young enough to start another wildly fulfilling life – become a bird-watcher, an artist or poet – or simply appreciate all you have.

And remember, you may feel you want to have that third bedroom when you downsize, but in a year or two, will you still be needing/wanting the extra space? Just a thought.

Happy village retirement. It was the best move we ever made. Seven years and counting!

Written by Heather Butler

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