I often think about retirement years, where and how I’ll live and with whom. I’m not partnered so of course the ‘with whom’ questions might be easy to answer: I’ll live alone. That might not always be possible though, and I might not always want it either.
So what are my options? I have thrown ideas around in my head for a while and had over-coffee discussions with friends that have given rise to general agreement but have gone nowhere specific. All of us value our autonomy and independence and want to live an active life for as long as we are able, part of the community still and definitely not located in a closed retirement enclave. We don’t want to live our lives by the rules that we typically associate with retirement villages.
For this reason, I was interested in the discussion that took place on ABC Radio National this morning on ‘To move or not to move?”
Guests on the program and those who rang in discussed many of those issues that I have cited: the need for control and autonomy; remaining part of the community but living in a supportive environment and having access to the support and facilities that they also required.
It seems that we are all thinking along the same lines. I love the house that I have built, but I know that it will be too expensive for me to run and maintain in coming years, plus I don’t want to spend all my time working on or maintaining the house. Ideally, I would develop a solution that is environmentally sensitive and as a consequence cheaper to run and maintain. Besides the facility that I have now – lots of storage, cleanable surfaces, welcoming character and atmosphere – I would like to build a place also that has those sacred and secret places either inside or outside. I would like to be able to entertain guests or dare I hope, one day the grandchildren. My secret indulgent wish is that I could also have a heated lap pool as I love swimming.
There are advantages to looking at a combined development – one that takes you into the future with shared facilities (I’m happy to share the pool), reduced costs, shared maintenance costs and with other like-minded people. My preference would be for a metropolitan village, as I am a city-based girl. I like having access to cinemas and cafés and a range of cultural and artistic facilities. If feasible, I would live in an inner-city location. That could be achieved with buying up a cluster of houses that back onto each other and demolishing the dividing fences and creating shared areas.
Alternatively, and preferably if one had the financial resources, another option would be to demolish those houses and to start again, with purpose-built housing solutions and a site that was master-planned from the beginning. Those who were interviewed in the radio program seemed to be taking the rural option, building their village on a green field site close to a town so that they still had access to facilities, but had enough land available to provide each dwelling with some acreage.
They all seemed to have similar ideas. I liked the provision of gopher tracks so in times of reduced mobility, the residents could ride their gophers to the local town as well as around their ‘village’. There was talk of communal gardens and shared tradespeople and bulk purchasing, all of which sounds sensible. Every proposal talked of eco-sensitive design which was going to result in sustainable development and reduced running costs. One project sensibly talked about a central guest accommodation unit so that there was somewhere for visitors to stay, and meaning that individual houses did not need to be as big. Something to contemplate although I would still like to have visitors staying with me.
Although frequent mention was made of like-minded people, it was also stressed that the community did not need to be of a homogenous age group and that having interaction with a variety of ages was also important. That could have be with visitors or local community interaction, or even people of varied age groups living permanently within the community.
I like the concepts that have been discussed here and have been mulling over the options for some time. I haven’t yet come to grips with how to get other people on board and how to decide on the type of development. I still have time to play around with the idea.
If others have thoughts along these lines, or know of other retirement communities, I would love to hear about it.