Try before you buy explained

Making the decision to sell your family home and move to a retirement village can be difficult. You may be asking yourself many questions. Will you like the community environment? Will you like a smaller home? Will you like the people there?

To make this easier for you, some of RetireAustralia’s supported living and serviced apartments offer an obligation-free ‘try before you buy’ option. If you’ve found some apartments you’re interested in, then you can ask the manager if it’s possible to trial either that apartment or one that’s similar for a small daily fee.
It’s like taking retirement village living for a test run and it makes a lot of sense. You wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving it and moving from your family home to a serviced or supported living apartment in a retirement village is a major decision.
By ‘trying before you buy’, you can meet the residents and experience first-hand whether village life is for you. You’ll be treated like the other residents in the village and you can join in all the activities so you’ll get a real glimpse of what it would be like if you were to join the village.
At the end of your ‘try before you buy’ period, it’s up to you to decide what to do. If you enjoyed the experience and think village life is for you, you can go ahead and organise the sale of your home and purchase the apartment you trialled or one similar to it. This may take a few months or longer, depending on your situation.

First-hand experience

Rachel Lush, Sales Coordinator for RetireAustralia’s South Australian villages, says that the ‘try before you buy’ option gives people “the peace of mind they need”.
“We have a high percentage of people who opt to stay once they’ve tried the supported living apartments because they like it,” she adds.
Rachel says that being able to actually experience living in serviced or supported apartments is a weight off people’s shoulders because they can see it’s going to be a positive change in their life.
“Many people are daunted by the idea of making such a big change – often they’re leaving the home they’ve been in for 60 years. But once they’re here, they realise everyone’s very supportive,” she says.
“They find they don’t have to worry about meals and cleaning and washing – or the gardening! Plus they’re getting social interaction with other people, which makes it so worthwhile. Residents dine together, so it’s very easy to make friends,” she adds.

Respite care available

As well as the ‘try before you buy’ option, RetireAustralia offers respite care at some of its retirement villages for those recovering from time in hospital or an illness.
Residents in respite care are supported by dedicated nursing staff who are on site 24/7. Meals, apartment cleaning and linen laundry are taken care of and some villages, known as supported residential facilities, also offer assistance with showering, dressing and taking medication.

A smooth transition

According to Rachel, RetireAustralia helps people to make a smooth transition, should they decide they’d like to purchase an apartment.
“If they want to stay on, we can give them 30 days to settle in or they can return to their home until their house sells. We work with them to make the transition as smooth as possible,” she says.
Some of RetireAustralia’s villages are able to offer a relocation loan so you can stay living in the apartment of your choice, while you sell your house.
“It’s like a bridging loan but it’s a cheaper option,” says Rachel. “It has minimal set up costs on a base variable rate and it allows them to stay while they have their house on the market.”
So you can stay living in the apartment of your choice while your house is on the market – giving you the freedom to enjoy village life straight away.

Here are our top 10 tips to make the most of your ‘try before you buy’ stay

  1. Chat with existing residents – make sure you talk to some of the existing residents about life in the retirement village, perhaps over lunch or a coffee.
  2. Explore the grounds and facilities – each retirement village is different, so use your time to check out all the facilities and the grounds so you know what’s available to you.
  3. Participate in groups or social activities – retirement villages are active communities with lots happening. Activities can range from coffee mornings to bingo and bowls or even yoga sessions. So join in and see if anything really takes your fancy!
  4. Check out the local area – find out more about the area’s attractions, amenities and nearby leisure pursuits. For example, locate the local shops and, if you like going to pubs and restaurants or playing sports like golf or bowls, find out how accessible these are.
  5. Consider the distance of the retirement village from friends and family – you will have done this beforehand, but while you’re there, really take a look at whether you’re close enough to your family and close friends and whether it’s easy for them to come and visit.
  6. Meet the village manager and talk to staff – again, this is something you’ll need to do before you try out a village, but while you’re there, keep in close contact with the village manager. If think of any more questions, ask them immediately. For example, can some of your meals be brought to your room? And what pets are allowed?
  7. Check out the village’s care credentials – the village may have other facilities for those who need extra support as they grow older. Enquire as to how you might be able to make a transition if you need to later on down the track.
  8. Scope out available properties – while you’re there, see what other villas or apartments are available. You may be very happy with the layout and style of the apartment you are trialling or you may prefer something else.
  9. Security – if you’re planning to live in the retirement village on your own, you’ll have far greater peace of mind if you check on the security systems in place. For example, check whether there’s an intercom system for answering the door and whether your garage is well secured.
  10. Enjoy yourself – in addition to everything else, it’s important to make the most of your visit and enjoy yourself! Retirement villages are welcoming communities and you may as well enjoy your ‘try before you buy’ stay, so do just that!

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