The options on offer in the UK are expanding rapidly as the baby boomer crowd begin to embrace the concept of an active and purposeful retirement. Even if you’re a decade or more away from retirement age and living alone, it’s definitely worthwhile thinking about how you plan to transition.
Modern retirement means living with purpose
On average people are living longer and many stay active well into their 60’s, 70’s or more. As a result, the question of how to plan and save for retirement is one that people are starting to give thought to at an earlier age. In fact, it’s never too soon to start thinking about the important questions, such as where you’ll live and how you’ll pay for it. The key to a happy retirement is to continue living with purpose – to replace work with something that keeps you active and engaged. So, it’s beneficial to start thinking about what you’ll actively do to stay busy and occupied when you stop work.
For adults who are single or living alone, retirement can be a particular shock as the day-to-day social contact and mental stimulation of work suddenly ends. Living in a modern retirement community with like-minded retirees is one way to continue enjoying a busy social life and an active lifestyle.
New options for solo retirement
Where once there were few options and when residential care homes were the only option available to most, the rise of modern retirement villages in the UK means that living alone or in a care home are no longer the only choices. Retirement communities where the focus is on active, social and productive living are giving older adults a new lease on life after they retire. Individual dwellings within retirement villages mean independence can be maintained in the midst of community living.
Residential care homes still exist of course, but they are by no means the only option. In modern retirement communities there’s a greater focus on comfort, but still staying active. These modern communities often include recreational facilities specially designed for residents: a gym, cafe, or restaurant for instance, along with regular activities and social occasions. A luxury development in Poole Harbour is planned with a club lounge, restaurant and other facilities, as well as on-site support and care for residents who need it.
For those on a less expansive budget, there are options such as Letcombe Regis in Oxfordshire, which boasts a library, restaurant, cafe, spa, and salon. This particular village even offers potential buyers the chance to live-in for a few days as a kind of “try before you buy” trial run.
Build your own retirement community
What if these living options don’t appeal? You can always build your own retirement community, as a group of North London women did recently. Just over two dozen women funded and built a housing development they call New Ground and have worked hard to develop a strong and caring community. This “co-housing” trend is still new in Britain but the handful of such communities across the country proves that it can be a hugely successful and enjoyable option for those contemplating retirement.
UK Cohousing is an organisation advocating co-housing communities in the UK and internationally. They say co-housing are intentional communities, created and run by residents. The organisation regards co-housing as “a way of resolving the isolation may people experience today” and initiatives can be “intergenerational, welcoming of any age and family structure, specifically cater for people who are older or are communities of common interest, for example, women or LGBT groups”.
UK’s first inter-generational co-housing project
With a concept originating from Germany and Denmark, LinkAges is the UK’s first inter-generational co-housing project where postgraduate students are being recruited by Cambridge Hub to be offered flats in a CHS sheltered housing scheme at intermediate market rents, in return for volunteering 30 hours per month to spend with existing older residents.
At Solo Living, we look forward to finding out more about the growing number of retirement and co-housing options that will appeal to our community. Affordability will be a challenge for the industry and consumers as some retirement villages have been criticised for their high fees particularly when leaving. We will be looking out for more news on retirement trends.
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