In recent years, apartment living or ‘vertical living’, has become a real ‘downsizing’ living option in retirement, with its own set of advantages compared to the more traditional landed property. The main advantages of apartment living are security, convenience, independence and affordability in locations where landed property would be prohibitively expensive.
Apartments – New Trend for the Over 50s
The Apartment Living trend has really gathered steam over the last few years, with apartment blocks being constructed in almost every major city. Some are free-market constructions, while others fall under the retirement villages legislation. The benefits are many, and there are thousands of happy residents who will testify to any and all of them.
Time plays a large role in this choice. Spending hours cleaning and landscaping is not everyone’s preference. It can also put unnecessary strain on aching muscles and bones. In some apartments, a great deal of work is done for you. Cleaning tasks are smaller, and beautiful landscaping is part of the package.
Cost is also a deciding factor. Many people dream of living in luxury surroundings in a prime location in the city, but who can afford it? With apartments reaching up and not branching out, both the capital outlay and day to day running costs are lower.
Location, location, location. Situated on prime real estate, right in the centre of the city, or on spectacular beaches, surrounded by all the activity and amenities you could want. Doctors are nearby, there are a variety of restaurants to choose from, and nowhere is more than a short walk or drive away.
These are just a few of the many benefits to vertical living.
Security is perhaps the easiest to understand. For instance, if you love to travel, you can basically just lock the door and go on holiday. You don’t have to worry about who will mow the lawn, or put out the garbage whilst you are away. If there is 24-hour security, as there often are with apartments, you can feel your apartment will remain pretty secure whether you are away for one day or for one month. Security is definitely a high priority for people entering a more mature phase of life. Features such as video intercom systems and secure underground car parking are important to the overall security.
No Compromise on Quality or Location
This generation of retirees does not want to compromise on their quality of life as they get older and developers are certainly recognising this through the quality of finishings that are being used.
New developments are centrally located, with excellent growth, infrastructure and within close proximity of major shopping centres, schools, hospitals and the beach. The locations offer a perfect residential lifestyle for those wishing to retire, downsize or invest.
A very significant advantage of apartments is that the land size needed is far less than landed property, and so they can afford to be in excellent locations. This certainly seems to be borne out by the choice locations of apartments designed for this age group. For instance, in Melbourne, Australian Unity has a retirement living building in Carlton, close to the Little Italy atmosphere of Lygon Street. The Scarborough by developers, Traders in Purple, is another case in point on the Redcliffe Peninsula, with sweeping panoramic views of Moreton Bay. In other words, resort-style living by the ocean has become affordable because of the apartment living option.
Another cost in considering downsizing is the ongoing cost of maintenance. Living in a home that you are not using the full footprint and amenities for, could cost you a great deal in energy and water bills. When the house had children in it, the consumption and need were there. Now that the numbers have shrunk, your outgoings may not have reduced in line.
When considering whether to move from the family home or not, there are many factors to consider on the emotional and social plane. Big homes can be isolating, especially if they were once full. Do you get to see your loved ones where you are? Is it easy to get to medical centres, shopping, and community events? Your home should be close to the people and things you love. Often times the family home was close to the things that were important to the family unit, but once the kids have left, the things that once were driving factors for your location are no longer relevant. You may have needed to live near schools, but can now move to the seafront or into the middle of the city.
Emotionally, downsizing can be a difficult thing to do. Your family home may be filled with great memories; Christmases, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, laughter, and time spent together. However, these memories are not stuck to the home – they are stuck to you. When you leave, you are simply opening room for someone else to make memories in the space as you bring yours with you to your new location.
More Time, More Money, More Access
At the end of the day, whether you are going into a smaller landed unit or an apartment, you should be downsizing for your own personal and financial freedom. Finding time for what you care about, instead of looking after a house that is no longer needed, is important. Leaving your work to retire should not mean entering new work as a housekeeper. If you want more time, more money, and more access to the things that you need, then you should think about downsizing. But why not Downsize and Upgrade at the same time?
Explore your options and you may find that a change of scenery is all you need to ensure the best retirement possible.
Finally, in considering apartments in your retirement, it is important to understand that some are operated and managed as vertical retirement villages and come under the various legislations regulating them; whilst with normal apartment developments, you can buy your unit outright, sell it according to your desires and even rent it out. You own the unit, which is not the case in a retirement village. The distinction is crucial in planning your financial future. Rights of ownership, however, are not the only thing to consider in opting for a vertical retirement village or a ‘free market’ apartment. Although all the conveniences are at hand in both models, with a free market apartment, the management does not take on some of the health-related and care-related services found in vertical retirement villages.
We have a growing mature population that need quality living options and it is great to see that developers are recognising this in their offerings.