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Choosing the right retirement property

Published: 17 May 2016

When you’re choosing a retirement home one of the most important factors to consider is its size. There’s no magic formula to working this out. It’s more about what suits you and your particular needs

Many older people prefer two-bedroom retirement homes. “There is often a view that older people need a lot less space, but this is a false assumption,” says Age UK. “Many people want the extra space for personal or health reasons. Others need space to allow children, grandchildren and friends to stay.”

It’s true that an extra room is welcome for the extra storage space it provides. But most retired people are surprised to find that a smaller apartment is a better fit for their lifestyle. The costs of buying a two-bedroom retirement property compared with a one-bedroom one can be significant, and better spent on enjoying your free time. When choosing a retirement property, it is important to consider the continuing service charges as well as the upfront cost.

Accommodating guests

If the reason for choosing extra space is to accommodate friends and family, using the guest facilities available in the retirement complex could be a much more cost-effective option. Most of the developments Retirementmove is selling have a guest suite for family and friends to stay over at £25 per night.

Making use of this facility would still enable you to have guests to stay whenever you wanted even if you bought just a one-bedroom apartment. Of course, the extra space may not just be for guests to stay, but because you just want more room.

A government report published in 2009, Housing our Ageing Population, looked at how the UK could create housing that has real appeal for the older generation. It found that the number of rooms was often “a status symbol”.

An airier home can give the impression of a larger space, and savvy furnishings mean a brighter, more flexible home for when friends or relatives come to visit. From sofa beds to expanding tables, in-built storage and wall-mounted televisions, there are innumerable ways to free up the space you have.

Ensuring you have enough built-in storage can make a particularly big difference to how spacious your home feels, and is of great importance to many homebuyers. But bear in mind that spaces that are inconvenient or out of reach can be self-defeating, especially for those who are less mobile.

Clever use of mirrored surfaces can also help a space look bigger. A glass coffee table instead of a wooden one, or lots of mirrors, will help. Even the choice of window coverings can make a difference. Curtains should be hung so that when they’re open the entire window is clear.

Doing this will maximise the light that enters the rooms and make them seem larger. When choosing any home, it’s entirely normal to have that Goldilocks moment – too large or too small – and wonder if there is anything that is right for you.

Don’t get disheartened, and remember: making just a few clever adjustments can mean that even a one-bedroom retirement home could be just right after all.

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