Moving to Retirement Housing

Development in Letchworth, Herts - an example of housing from Retirement Housing Group member Beechwood
Retirement scheme in Letchworth (Beechcroft)

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. We may require an element of care or wish to find friendship. The reasons for thinking about a move will be particular to you and your family. Whatever they are, it is a major move and a decision to consider carefully.

These days there are many different types of accommodation for the older person and these go under the general title of “Retirement Housing”. The aim of this page is to explain the range of options available so that you can make an informed decision on what could be right for you.

Why and when to make the move

Residents with fundraising cheque at Penryhn Court Llandudno - housing from Retirement Housing Group member BUPA Assisted Living
Residents at Penryhn Court Llandudno (BUPA Assisted Living Scheme)

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.
  • It is also designed specifically for people who are less mobile.
  • Often a manager is on hand to check that everything is well and answer any questions.
  • It is easier to access care services when needed.

It is important that residents 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: flats, bungalows and houses.  All are self-contained, accessible homes over which the resident retains control. Many are leasehold properties. Some of our members are housing associations which also provide housing to rent.

We have not included 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 three categories below.

An example of a Sheltered Housing complex from Retirement Housing Group member Anchor

Retirement Housing

This is often known as “Sheltered Housing” or “Retirement Living”.

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

  • secure main entrance
  • residents’ lounge
  • access to an emergency alarm service
  • a guest room

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.
To move into retirement housing you are assumed to be independent enough not to need care staff permanently on site.

An example of Assisted Housing by Retirement Housing Group member Beechwood

Supported Housing

This is often known as “Extra Care Housing” or “Assisted Living”. Everyday care and support will be available.

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

  • a restaurant
  • communal lounges
  • social space and leisure activities
  • staff on site 24 hours a day.

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

An example of a retirement village from Retirement Housing Group member Beechwood

Retirement Villages

This is a larger-scale type of specialist housing for older people which includes optional care. Retirement villages are made up of clusters of accommodation around a central hub. The hub provides a range of facilities with the aim of creating a village atmosphere. The facilities can include:

  • restaurants
  • cafes
  • shops
  • swimming pools
  • gym/spa

Some villages also include separate registered care home accommodation for people with high levels of dependency/health problems. This can help a couple with different levels of need to stay together. The concept is that residents can “age in place” and would never need to move away from the village. These villages are usually developed where residents can reach local facilities easily. They also promote the use of village facilities by non-residents, both to enable local people to get together and to generate income.

Where can I find out about local schemes?

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

EAC First Stop directory includes details of most rented or leasehold/owner occupier retirement schemes across the UK.

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.


Where can I get more advice and information?

There is plenty of advice available from specialist organisations and charities. These are ones we recommend:

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

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.