Menu Close

Advice about looking for Retirement Housing

There is information here for older people and their families when considering a move to specialist retirement housing. We explain the types of housing available and where you can find detailed advice on the subject.

Moving to Retirement Housing

As we get older, our housing needs change. Perhaps we want something smaller that is easier to look after and cheaper to run. Perhaps we want to relocate to another area of the country, possibly to be closer to family and friends. We may require an element of care or wish to find companionship. The reasons for thinking about a move will be particular to you and your family.

Retirement housing is an overarching term used to describe the many different types of accommodation available to address these needs. The aim of this page is to explain the options available, so that you can make an informed decision about what could be right for you.

Why and when to make the move

Many people will start to think about moving when their current home becomes harder to manage and everyday tasks start to take
longer. For those who do choose to make the move, satisfaction is high:

  • Accommodation is generally easier to look after and cheaper to heat and run.
  • It is also designed for people as they age.
  • Typically, an on-site manager or support team (often providing care) is on hand to check that everything is well and answer any questions.
  • It is easier to access care services when needed.

Things to bear in mind

It is important that customers are able to reach local facilities easily, especially as some no longer drive. Usually schemes will be located close to shops, health centres and other facilities. You should check out local public transport arrangements if you do not drive.

For many, the overriding benefit is the social side of retirement housing. You are near others in a similar situation to you. You have access to community spaces or events, if you want to join in. Yet, you still have your own self-contained private apartment, bungalow or house.

If you, or a member of your family, are considering a move to retirement housing you should look at the different types on offer. Each type is slightly different and offers its own range of housing and services, sometimes with a care option. Think about how each could best meet your needs.

What types of retirement housing are available?

Here we show the types of retirement housing provided by our members. They offer all forms of accommodation: apartments, bungalows and houses.  All are self-contained, accessible homes over which the customer retains control. Many are leasehold properties, and there is now an increasing range of tenures provided, including private rent and shared ownership. Some of our members are housing associations which also provide social housing to rent.

For clarity, these forms of housing do not include residential care or nursing homes, although these will sometimes be provided alongside our members’ properties.

Modern retirement housing does vary and can meet a range of needs but in general most will fall into one of the two categories below.

Retirement Living

Maryland Place St Albans - retirement living

This is often known in planning terms as housing with support, sheltered housing, retirement flats or communities.

Retirement Living usually provides some facilities that you would not find in completely independent accommodation. These can include:

  • full-time on-site and dedicated manager
  • emergency call system and secure entry
  • residents’ lounge and laundry
  • guest facilities
  • landscaped gardens and grounds
  • an age restriction for customers, usually from the age of 60
  • built to higher accessibility standards

You can expect to pay for the extra facilities and services through a service charge on top of the purchase price or rent. Always make sure you see clear details of charges before committing yourself.

Housing with care

Beechcroft retirement scheme at Charter Place, Witney

This is often known as integrated retirement communities, housing with care, assisted living or independent living. Regulated care and support services will be available. Larger schemes are called “Retirement Villages”.

Facilities will include those available in retirement living plus others such as:

  • 24 hour on-site staff – optional care or domiciliary services available
  • restaurant or cafe available for meals
  • communal lounges
  • social space and leisure activities including – gym, swimming pool, exercise programme
  • regulated care.

Service charges are likely to be higher than in retirement living but this reflects the more extensive range of facilities.

Other charges, such as ground rents, may also be payable in all forms of retirement housing.

Where can I find out about retirement housing near me?

Whether you are moving within the local area or relocating to be close to family, there are options all over the country.

EAC First Stop directory includes details of most retirement housing schemes across the UK.

Autumna also provides a useful database of retirement housing developments.

If you wish to buy a property then you can find properties for sale either through the providers themselves or local estate agents.

If you are looking for retirement housing in the social rented sector you should contact the local council or a housing association.

Celebrating signing up to new flat at Pegasus Life retirement scheme at Canford Cliffs, Poole, Dorset

Where can I get more advice and information?

There is plenty of advice available from specialist organisations and charities, along with standards and codes that govern the provision of housing and services in the retirement housing sector. Here are some we recommend:

The Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) is the main national body that sets standards of property management. It is the leading professional body for managing agents and many of our members are signed up to and abide by its stringent code of practice.

The Association of Retirement Housing Managers (ARHM) is the largest trade body for the retirement housing sector. It has a dedicated code of practice which carries Government approval.

The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) is a trade body representing many of the Integrated Retirement Community operators. ARCO also has its own consumer code.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) and its equivalent bodies in Wales and Scotland regulates care provided in retirement housing.

The Elderly Accommodation Council (EAC) provides comprehensive advice about housing, care and finance. It includes a series of factsheets, a questionnaire to help decide on the best housing options for you and a dedicated telephone advice line.

Age UK offers advice about housing and care in addition to a wide range of other issues that may be of interest to older people. The topics covered include: health, dementia, welfare benefits, finance, work, travel.

Citizens Advice Bureau offers help in claiming welfare benefits including Attendance Allowance.

Equity Release Council offers impartial advice about equity release to help you remain in your current home.