UK Retirement Villages & Communities: An Essential Guide

UK Retirement Villages & Communities: An Essential Guide

Posted by Declan Davey

UK Retirement Villages & Communities: An Essential Guide

Inside today’s guide: Find out how to choose between different types of retirement villages and communities.

Browse according to your lifestyle preferences, budget, and care needs.

The search for Retirement Living developments made easy on Autumna

Why can’t it be easy, this whole retirement thing?

    Accommodation is one of the most vital factors to get right for quality of life in retirement.

    But having to weigh up all of the information out there is enough to make your head throb! So — in this essential guide — we’ll aim to make the research process as simple as possible.

    Feel free to click any of the quick links below to go to the most relevant sections for you.

    The search for Retirement Living developments made easy on Autumna

    4 Ways to Search for Retirement Villages & Communities


      Ever typed “UK retirement communities”or “retirement villages near me” into Google and been left confused about what you should look for?

      For many, the lifestyle benefits of these villages and communities are one of the biggest plus points. So, this could be the best place to begin.

      • Facilities

      If someone were to ask what facilities you’d love to have at your doorstep, what would be your top picks?

      A cafe? Cinema? Perhaps a cosy library?

      UK retirement communities can feature one or more of the above, along with many other facilities.

      For example, if you use the Autumna search tool to look for communities and retirement villages in Surrey, a list of accommodation will be displayed. See the image below for one of the options that appears on page one:

      Lower Mill Apartments is just one of the listings that will appear in a search for Retirement Living in Surrey on Autumna.

        And then, when you go into the dedicated page with further details about the accommodation — you’ll see a drop-down menu in orange text.

        The Autumna Retirement Living directory allows you to search by 'lifestyle'

        From there, you can find out more about the kind of lifestyle benefits on offer. In this case, Lower Mill Apartments has the following facilities available:

        • Bar
        • Bingo Club
        • Cafe
        • Cinema
        • Library
        • Pub
        • Restaurant

        Not too shabby, is it?

        Together, they’re probably enough to keep you occupied for a long time!

        Lifestyle photos are an important part of an enhanced listing for Retirement Living on Autumna

        A lot of retirement villages and communities offer a diverse range of facilities, so that points of interest are only a short distance away. But what if you want to keep fit and mobile, too?

        Next up, it’s time to look at activities.

        • Wellbeing Activities

        As you get older, it becomes even more important to take care of your health. So, it’s no surprise that many retirement villages and communities promote wellbeing with a broad array of activities.

        For instance, the Stoke Gifford retirement village in Bristol has a fitness centre, well-being suite, hobby room, games room, and beauty/hair salons.

        To top it off, there’s even a greenhouse and landscaped gardens. Fancy!

        The breadth of activities at Stoke Gifford retirement village won’t be available at every accommodation you come across.

        Nonetheless, it gives you an idea of what makes these UK retirement communities very tempting for those aged 55 and over.

        Greenhouses and landscaped gardens are just some of the things to look for in a Retirement Village

        Care & Support

        Historically, retirement villages and communities haven’t provided care to residents. Or in the circumstances where they did, it was a relatively small amount of support.

        Instead, the focus was much more on villages being a place for independent seniors who wanted to be around similar people.

        But what we’re finding at Autumna is that developers of these UK retirement communities are moving towards a more flexible support structure. This will come as welcome news to those who are keen to plan for later-life care.

        It’s true that some retirement villages still offer no care at all. These locations are intended for seniors who remain in good health and can function well without support.

        Increasingly, though, care is accessible within the retirement community setting...

        Whether that be receiving housekeeping help, home care from a registered care provider, or an actual care home on-site, there’s scope to get the help you need as time goes on.

        Retirement Living developments will generally have an optional home care service

        In truth, what developers have come to realise is that the average age of somebody moving into retirement living is 82. For instance, the organisation Retirement Villages say their average buyer is between the age of 78 and 84.

        What do these statistics hint at?

        Well — realistically — the average resident may only move into a retirement community for a year or two before they need care.

        As a result, the direction developers are going in is to try to appeal to more people in the 55-75 age bracket.

        • For Minimal (Or No) Care Needs

        Frequently, this group will include your “downsizers” — people who want to sell and move somewhere that’s less hassle to maintain, whilst still being able to furnish their new home according to personal preference.

        Plus, more able retirement village residents can invite family and friends over whenever they like, and take advantage of the leisure facilities.

        An extended family enjoying the landscaped gardens of a retirement village.

        In many ways, it’s a win-win for the village developers and the residents…

        The developers bring in residents at a younger age, so they’re living there for longer. And the residents in decent health — they still get the freedom to go on holiday, and come and go as they please.

        Overall, the setup feels more personalised. Residents avoid the restrictions and “stuffiness” that other types of retirement living might suffer from.

        • For More Significant Care Needs

        As mentioned, an increasing number of UK retirement communities and villages do supply care on-site. But how could this play out, in practise?

        Well, one example we can look at is Emerson Park, which is a retirement village in Kent.

        When you carry out a search on the Autumna site, you’ll see that care at Emerson Park is customisable.

        Emerson Park offers flexible home care packages

        Domestic help, personal alarm monitoring, and on-site assistance is available 24 hours a day.

        Also, there are companionship services for meal times, hobbies, travel, and sorting out household admin.

        And for residents who may need more substantial care as they get older, Emerson Park says they support residents with a care home if needed.

        So, as you can tell, these newer retirement villages aim to cater to people with different wants and care needs — as well as giving the flexibility to scale the level of care over time.

        Pricing Structure

        One of the most common questions that comes up about retirement villages and communities is “what’s the price?”

        Naturally, seniors and their families want to get a firm idea of how much this is going to cost...

        So is it good news?

        We’d say yes, it is. Because there are now more payment options than ever, from retirement village rentals to paying the full amount upfront. Here’s a quick summary!

        • Buying Outright vs. Rentals

        Got a limited budget to work with?

        More than ever, retirement communities in the UK are trying to make themselves approachable.

        Unfortunately, a % of seniors will still be priced out. But a greater amount of communities are coming onto the market with lower-priced entry points.

        Some retirement properties need to be purchased outright. For example, the Chester-based retirement village, Boughton Hall, offers one and two-bed apartments from £270,000.

        Boughton Hall in Chester, part of Enterprise Retirement Living.

        When you view a retirement village or community on Autumna, you can scroll to the drop-down menu.

        The “Properties & Prices” section will show you the property type and ownership options. For Boughton Hall, it’s buy only:

        Boughton Hall in Chester has retirement living apartments for sale but not rental

        But what if you’d rather rent?

        Well, we’re finding that some retirement communities ask for as little as £120 a week in rent.

        Not a bad deal, right?

        Retirement village rentals act as an alternative for seniors whose eyes are left watering at lofty purchase prices — which can rise to as much as £1 million.

        Remember, though, that the UK government’s help-to-buy scheme may be an option for some people.

        And if you need help with moving, you might want to take a look at The Senior Move Partnership. They work with retirement developers and support older adults who are planning to move.

        Tasks they have expertise in include:

        • Making arrangements for the sale (or letting) of your current property

        • Assisting with cleaning and repairs to boost your sell price

        • Organising which items to sort, keep, and discard for downsizing

        • Liaising with solicitors, estate agents, developers, and keeping family members in-the-loop

        • Stamp Duty Holiday

        Keen to make a move ASAP?

        Don’t forget about the stamp duty holiday that’s currently in place in the UK. It could save you a good chunk of cash.

        Normally, there’s a Stamp Duty Land Tax to be paid for any properties you buy that are more than £125,000.

        But since July 8th 2020, a temporary “stamp duty holiday” was agreed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

        What does this mean for buyers?

        Essentially, stamp duty is now at 0% for all residential properties under £500,000 — including homes in retirement villages and communities.

        Bear in mind, the holiday is set to end on 31 March 2021. So, it’s only going to benefit movers in the short-term.

        To save you the head-scratching mental maths, here’s a stamp duty calculator that can help you work out your potential costs.

        Extra Benefits

        Okay, so we’ve covered lifestyle, care, and pricing.

        Now let’s touch on two further benefits of retirement villages, which have become even more essential since the Coronavirus pandemic began.

        • Infection Control

        The topic of infection control has been top of mind for the past year — and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be any less relevant in 2021.

        Seniors wanting to move into retirement living have wisely been thinking, “is this place going to be safe?”

        As an organisation that helps families find care, our team at Autumna wanted to take action to give movers clarity. Our solution is S.A.F.E. which allows you to see which retirement homes and villages are getting things right when it comes to infection control.

        S.A.F.E. stands for “Symptom Assessment for Everyone.” And we have three big goals here:

        1. 1. To feature S.A.F.E care homes and retirement villages on the Autumna website, so you can search for them. The green S.A.F.E. label (as shown in the example below) is displayed for locations that we know meet the guidelines

        1. 2. Publish validated third-party information that gives evidence of safe practices

        1. 3. Promote transparency of symptom checks and testing

        Headingley Hall Retirement Apartments are displaying the S.A.F.E. infection control badge on Autumna

        • Community Hub in Difficult Times

        As you can tell, with names such as “retirement communities” and “retirement villages,” these hubs want to showcase their social opportunities — and rightly so.

        During the Coronavirus pandemic, many older adults were (and continue to be) left isolated.

        It’s a tricky situation for everyone involved. Safety risks stop family and friends from being able to visit. Shops and leisure hubs, too, have taken the brunt of lockdown, further limiting seniors’ ability to stay social.

        We know that isolation can have negative effects on mental wellbeing. And helpline calls have soared, according to the mental health charity, MIND.

        So, for seniors who may have been weighing up the pros and cons of retirement villages, the social aspect of these villages has become a genuinely health-promoting benefit.

        If you lived in your own house in a street, during the lockdown, you would have barely seen anybody — that’s been the reality for a lot of people.

        We think that's why people are starting to look at retirement communities in the UK, even more than they were before.

        At least, if you're in a retirement community, you can be walking around the community and chat with people from a safe distance...

        And whilst the community facilities might be closed, you can still stand and talk to somebody in the courtyard. Plus, there’s always staff at hand if you need it. These small details can make all the difference to someone’s wellbeing.

        How to Find Retirement Villages or Communities That Suit Your Budget & Needs

        Searching for retirement living locations that meet your criteria?

        Let us help you. When you send Autumna a quick email explaining what you’re looking for we’ll give you a customised list of retirement properties. Here’s our email address to get in touch:


        Another option is to call our Advice Line on 01892 335 330. We’re here to chat from Monday to Sunday (8:30am - 5:30pm Mon-Fri, 10am - 5pm Sat, 10am - 4pm Sun).

        And don't forget, you can find out more about the benefits of Retirement Living in this Autumna YouTube Live presentation.

        Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to speak soon.

        Thanks for stopping by!


        Thanks go to Declan Davey (Health & Wellness Copywriter) for his help with this guide.

        FAQs About Retirement Villages & Communities

        Question — What are retirement villages?

        Answer — Retirement villages are a worthwhile option to consider for seniors who like to stay independent, whilst benefiting from community access. Residents can enjoy facilities such as spas or cafes and optional social activities. Accommodation available includes apartments, flats, and houses.

        Question — How much does it cost to live in a retirement village?

        Answer — The cost of retirement village living will depend on a variety of factors, such as location and facilities. Pricing can range from as little as £120 per week to rent, all the way up to more luxury homes with a purchase price of £1 million.

        Question — What’s the difference between a retirement village and a retirement community?

        Answer — The accommodation size dictates how we distinguish retirement villages from retirement communities. Retirement villages tend to have more than 100 homes on-site, whereas communities are smaller-sized hubs.

        Question — Are retirement villages a good idea?

        Answer — Retirement villages can be an excellent idea for seniors who want to stay as active and independent as possible, whilst being nearby like-minded people. Facilities on-site may include gyms, cafes, and swimming pools, as well as a variety of social groups.

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