Buying your first home is a daunting process that forces you to weigh up how you want live with what is realistically affordable.
When buying your last home, money may be less of an issue, but it should not stop being a consideration.
Residents of Retirement Villages Victoria (RRVV) committee member June Ziebell urges last home buyers to study their options carefully before rushing into the final property investment they will ever make.
“You can’t say, ‘I’ll do that in the next house,’ because there won’t be a next house,” Mrs Ziebell said.
“People really must do their homework.”
After her husband died, Mrs Ziebell was left with a huge garden and a grave responsibility.
“I knew I had to downsize, I couldn’t put it off any longer.
"I saw an advertisement in the paper for three units available in a retirement village, so I decided to go and look at them,” she said.
After warming up to one of the units, Mrs Ziebell told the operator she would sleep on it. The next morning, it was sold. But she was not perturbed.
So began an extensive process of compare and contrast as she set out to find the right village unit for her.
After meeting with operators and salespeople, she would conscientiously jot down the quarterly fees, exit fees and lifestyle options of the various villages to compile a comprehensive comparison of her alternatives.
She looked at over ten places before settling on the original retirement village she saw and found a unit she fell in love with.
It was only after seeing the other villages that Mrs Ziebell was sure she had found what she was looking for.
“I said straight away, ‘I’ll take it,’ because I had done the research to know I wouldn’t find anything better.”
Mrs Ziebell, now an active member of a retirement village community, is confident that her quarterly fee of $1000 is put to good use.
The village where Mrs Ziebell lives has a courtesy bus that takes her on shopping trips twice a week and social outings once a month. This week they are going to the theatre to see My Fair Lady.
She takes part in card games, sing songs and inter-village carpet bowls.
And there is a beautiful garden with a communal vegetable patch where she picks the watercress for her salads.
All of this suits Mrs Ziebell to a tee, but it may not be for everyone.
Every retirement village has different services to offer and different price-tags to go with them.
Mrs Ziebell said many villages have swimming pools, but when you get to 80-odd, there is hardly any need for one.
“You have to make sure that you’re not paying for something you don’t use,” she said.
In some cases, managers will interview potential residents to access whether they will fit in, but ultimately the decision is theirs alone.
Mrs Ziebell encouraged last home buyers to visit the villages in person and ask residents why they like living there.
“We’ve got people in our village that have been here for 25 years and are very happy,” she said.
“You’d get a better assessment from them than you would from a salesman.”
Most retirement villages hold regular open days.
Check our directory to find one near you.