Try Before You Buy: Top ten tips to make the most of your stay

Blog posted

24th May 2016

You wouldn’t buy a car before test-driving it or new clothes without trying them on for size, but it isn’t usually practical to actually live in a property before committing to a purchase.

However, if you’re thinking about what do and where to live when you retire a number of retirement village developers, including Retirement Villages, are offering a Try Before You Buy scheme for potential buyers.

This is where you visit an age-exclusive retirement community and stay overnight, usually free of charge and sometimes even in the actual property you are interested in. This gives you a taste of village life and can help make up your mind whether life in a retirement village is suitable for you.

If you are thinking of using a retirement village’s Try Before You Buy scheme, then here are our top ten tips to make the most of your stay.

1. Chat with existing residents

Meet and chat with existing residents about life in the retirement village, perhaps over lunch or a coffee. You will find that most of them are honest about the pros and cons of living there, so gain as much feedback as you can.

2. Explore the grounds and facilities

Most retirement villages are built in nice locations to appeal to potential buyers and have a range of facilities such as an on-site shop, restaurant, lounge or library. However, each is different, so having a stroll round and checking the place out is important. Think what is most important to you and don’t settle for less. Do you need open space to walk a dog or prefer being within walking distance of a store for instance?

3. Participate in groups or social activities

Retirement villages are highly active communities with extensive social calendars. Activities range from music groups and debating societies to cooking classes and yoga sessions, anything that takes your fancy in fact! Residents run many of these activities and you will be most welcome to join in. It is a great opportunity to soak up the vibe and meet people.

4. Attend village events

Similarly there are also plenty communal events and days out for residents. These include Christmas parties, coffee mornings and trips to local towns and markets. Get involved with as many of these as possible during your stay, as they are another good indicator of a retirement village’s social scene.

5. Check out the local area, its attractions and amenities

While you are visiting, check out the local area and find out about its attractions, amenities and nearby leisure pursuits. How far away is the village from the local shops or dentist for example?

If you enjoy going to pubs and restaurants, or play sports such as golf or bowls, how accessible are these? Do you need to drive or are they within walking distance? Is there public transport close at hand? Also consider the distance of the retirement village from friends and family. Weigh up whether the local area delivers against your expectations.

6. Meet the retirement village manager and talk to staff

If you are retired or about to retire then retirement villages can be a great lifestyle choice, but they aren’t for everyone. This is your chance to ask the important questions such as those relating to finance. E.g. what fees are payable when leaving the property? What is included in the service or maintenance charges? Are properties on a leasehold or rental basis?

You could also ask about the day-to-day support and assistance services available to residents. Can you arrange for meals to be brought to your home for instance? Then there are questions relating to pets, making alterations to properties etc. The list goes on.

7. Check the village’s care credentials

Some retirement villages offer care services for those who need a little extra support in later life. These include nursing, residential and domiciliary care, as well as specialist care for people living with conditions such as dementia. If you need this type of support or feel you may have a need for it in the future, then do talk to staff and residents about this while you are staying at the retirement village.

8. Scope out the properties on offer

You may know exactly what you are looking for in terms of the type of home you want to live in and how big it needs to be, or then again you may not. This may seem like an obvious one, but if you are thinking of purchasing property in a retirement village be sure to have a good look round some of the apartments and houses available. This will help you determine which is most suitable.

9.  Security

Some people feel vulnerable in later life, especially if they are on their own. If this applies to you, or you are planning on spending lots of time away visiting friends and family during your retirement, then do check what security precautions are in place at the retirement village (e.g. do the properties have a telecom answering system?). What this means is complete peace of mind, whether you are staying in or going away for the weekend.

10. Enjoy yourself

Do make the most of your visit and enjoy yourself! Retirement villages are fun and active, welcoming communities so get involved. Even if you decide retirement villages aren’t for you, that is the point of Try Before You Buy. At least you can say you have evaluated every option.

To find the closest development from Retirement Villages participating in Try Before You Buy, visit


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