Retirement living transition checklist for those making the change

For many Australians, the decision to move into retirement living can be difficult and fraught with emotion, yet downsizing is a process many of you may end up going through.

When the time comes to taking the next step, there are many considerations to weigh up.

These 10 tips from Kerry Mann, chief executive of Cranbrook Care, should make the transition to retirement living a little simpler.

“Many of us have friends and family who are understandably concerned about our welfare and wellbeing as we age. It’s hugely important that they are brought into the decision-making process early to make sure that retirees are comfortable with the choices being made,” said Ms Mann, adding that understanding the overwhelming sense of uncertainty that retirees and their families experience is key to a successful transition into retirement living.

“There are some clear signs to look for that might indicate that making the move to retirement living could be the right decision for you, such as declining health, finding it difficult to maintain your home or a large garden, having rooms in your house that are not frequently used, or beginning to experience difficulties managing stairs or other areas of your property.

“If this sounds like you or your family member, now might be the right time to start thinking about making the transition to a retirement lifestyle, which can offer a wealth of benefits for those who are looking to slow down the pace a little and enjoy all that this time of life has to offer.”

Retirement is not a single event. It is a process that begins long before you leave work and continues for the rest of your life. Starting with …

1. Having that conversation
Moving to a retirement residence is an important lifestyle decision. Start by having open and honest conversations with family and friends to gain different perspectives on the move. This will help loved ones feel included and part of the process, as well as helping you with making a considered decision.

2. Assembling a team
You will need to create a reliable support team to help guide and support you through this transition. This should include family, a financial adviser/accountant, and an estate planner/solicitor, as well as close friends who may have also recently made the decision to move to retirement living and are likely able to offer a wealth of advice.

3. Finding the perfect time
Common signs that indicate that it might be time to start creating a retirement plan can include declining health, struggling to keep up with general household maintenance, having multiple rooms in the house that are no longer in regular use, or having mobility issues when navigating areas in your current property such as stairs.

Perhaps you simply have the desire for an easy ‘lock and leave’ lifestyle, which could allow you to travel without having to worry about home and garden maintenance.

Read more: Half of over-55s are open to downsizing – if only they could find homes that suit them

4. Research
Take the time to search the internet for retirement living options in an area that you like. Find and read reviews of various properties to understand different experiences. Create a checklist of requirements that you would hope to be in your future living plan. Consider what’s important to you and ask questions. Can family and friends visit, what are the monthly fees, are pets welcome, what extra services are available?

5. Seeking expert financial advice
Contact a qualified financial adviser specialising in retirement planning. This will assist you in determining your financial future.

Read more: Steps to make downsizing easy (ish)

6. Scoping out locations
Get out and about and visit the locations you have researched. Whilst visiting the property, ensure to inquire about any regulations that may apply before moving into your desired community. Look out for open days or information sessions to attend.

7. Preparing your home to sell
Keep updated on the current state of the property market. Many retirement residences can recommend a real estate agent, with whom they have previously worked, who might be able to suggest small ways of making your home more attractive to prospective buyers.

8. Sorting out what to take with you
Now that you are downsizing, be sure only to take the things you really need by asking yourself some tough questions. Will you still need that 10-seat dining table? Take your most precious mementos with you, but also consider that a move to retirement living provides an exciting opportunity to update or redecorate your new home.

Read more: What to ditch when downsizing

9. Identifying service offerings
Read the fine print of the contract before you move into your chosen retirement residence and make sure it includes service offerings that will increase as you age, such as the availability of home care or residential aged care, allowing you to stay in your home for longer.

10. Moving in
You’ve done it! Retirement is the time for you to live life to the fullest – make new friends, start a different hobby or simply just relax.

Although making these decisions can be daunting – there are a number of benefits to consider for those who might be looking to make the change – convenience, opportunities to meet new friends, low maintenance living, increased independence and safety and security.

Would you ever consider moving to a retirement community? What is most or least appealing about this option? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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