Retirement properties

Retirement communities of stylish homes are springing up all over the country - so moving in later life is now something to look forward to, says Kerry Parnell

Decisions, decisions. Should you dine in the restaurant, at one of the neighbourhood eateries or at home? Do you fancy a trip to the theatre, an art class, or just want to wander in the manicured grounds or relax in the library?
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a description of the facilities at a five-star hotel, but it’s actually a list of what you will typically find in the latest retirement villages and residences. Retirement developments have come of age, and far from being the one-size-fits-all proposition of earlier times, now there really is something for everyone and every taste.
Many of them, including The Beckett retirement residence in Royal Tunbridge Wells, are styling themselves like luxury hotels, with high-end apartments, fine dining and concierge services, as well as care for those who need it.
‘A zest for life is not something that diminishes with age, neither does a taste for the finer things,’ says Gavin Stein, the chief executive of Elysian Residences, which manages the development. ‘Our apartments are designed to reflect the tastes of our homeowners, but with the benefits and security of a hotel-style setting.’

Fit for royalty
With its famous historic Pantiles promenade and spa, Tunbridge Wells, in Kent, has been welcoming monarchs for centuries - Queen Victoria came to take the waters and Edward VII bestowed it its royal title in 1909.
Visitors began coming to the town in the 17th century, when the Chalybeate Spring was discovered. The numbers grew over the years, attracted to the pretty town, beautiful countryside and fact that it is easily accessible from London. Today it has a population of about 115,000 and is an hour from the capital by train.
The Beckett, which will open in early 2024, follows on the heels of Elysian’s successful launch of Wildernesse House in neighbouring Sevenoaks.
The town-centre development consists of three buildings set around landscaped gardens. It has 89 one- and two-bedroom apartments and a threebedroom penthouse, along with facilities including a gym and sauna, a gourmet restaurant, bar and library.

The Beckett in Royal Tunbridge Wells
The apartments have large floor-to-ceiling windows and patios, balconies or terraces. They feature modern kitchens, living and dining spaces and the main bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms. Prices start at £395,000.
Like all Elysian developments,The Beckett offers discreet integrated care - as much or as little as you need, with the flexibility to change over time. From help around the home, to shopping, walking your dog, right up to personal healthcare and assistance with medical needs, residents can rest easy knowing help is at hand if they need it.
In the surrounding area there are many shops, cafés and restaurants, from G. Collins & Sons, jewellers to the late Queen, to the department stores Fenwick and Hoopers. Other retailers include The White Company, Seasalt and Jigsaw.
Foodies will enjoy the weekly farmers’ market, plus gourmet restaurants such as Thackeray’s and Tallow, and wonderful pubs. The surrounding Weald of Kent is also packed with fabulous walking trails, and there is even a heritage railway.
‘The Beckett brings further opportunity for those in the Royal Tunbridge Wells and surrounding areas to experience the luxury offering that an Elysian Residences retirement community provides,’ says Stein.

Village living
If the idea of village living appeals, then you might want to consider one of the nine - with more to come - Inspired Villages developments. The new Millfield Green village in Caddington, Bedfordshire, is surrounded by pretty countryside and within easy reach of Dunstable, St Albans and Berkhamsted. Millfield Green is the company’s first net-carbon-zero village. It has a wide range of facilities, including a bar, restaurant and bistro, pool, library, gym, spa, craft room and hairdresser.
Apartments are available to buy or rent - prices start at £341,000 - and are beautifully designed, with modern kitchens, bathrooms with walk-in showers and carefully considered details for older residents. The light-filled properties all have a ground-floor terrace or balcony. For those who need extra help there are also assisted-living suites, with packages for all levels of care.
Also in Bedfordshire is another Inspired Villages development, Elderswell, in the pretty village of Turvey.

Millfield Green retirement village in Warwickshire
Austin Heath in Warwickshire offers a micro-community with exceptional services, including a spa and pool, café-bar, brasserie, gym, library and concierge and chauffeur service. Also in Warwickshire is Great Alne Park, near Stratford-upon-Avon, set in 78 acres of parkland.
Gifford Lea is in the beautiful village of Tattenhall in Cheshire, and is another new development in one of the country’s best locations, as is Ledian Gardens, near Leeds Castle in Kent. They both have excellent facilities, including a pool and wellness centre, hairdressing and beauty salon, gym, library, café-bar and bistro, plus room service.
Inspired Villages aims to redefine community living for people of retirement age, with top-notch homes in beautiful environments.

Community spirit
One of the best aspects of living in a retirement development is the fact that you get to join a community. Enjoying the friendship of a group of like-minded individuals is central to the mission of Pegasus, which has 30 communities in areas ranging from Newcastle upon Tyne to the south coast.
Highfields, in West Byfleet, Surrey, is a development of 75 one- and twobedroom apartments in two buildings. They are set in five acres of land near several historic listed buildings. A former dairy has been converted into a yoga/wellness studio and library, and residents can also enjoy a lounge and dining area. There’s even a bookable guest suite for visitors.

A typical bathroom and living room at Pegasus HIghfields
The open-plan apartments are bright and stylish and available to rent or buy, with prices starting from £450,000 to buy or £2,330 a month to rent. With modern kitchens and sleek bathrooms, they are designed with comfort and ease in mind.
‘We really wanted to tap into wellbeing, which underpins the Pegasus Highfields community,’ says Jo Love, founder of Love Interiors, which designed the apartments. ‘We wanted to flip the perceptions of retirement, designing spaces which allow residents to grow. We are passionate about creating interior spaces which are harmonious with a building’s architecture and environment, making residents feel connected with the landscape.’
The surrounding landscape certainly has a lot to offer. Highfields is close to the shops and facilities of Weybridge and Woking, and is only a 15-minute drive from the famous RHS gardens at Wisley. West Byfleet Golf Club and Weybridge Lawn Tennis Club are both nearby, and London is only half-an-hour away by train. Guildford, Farnham and Windsor are all within easy reach.
Like all Pegasus properties, Highfields is all about the balance of independence and togetherness. Pets are allowed and a resident ‘Lifehost’ helps people come together by organising communal events. They are on hand for help and advice, and should you need extra care, they can work with you and external agencies to source appropriate support.

City slickers
If village living is not for you, then how about a retirement property in London? There is much to be said for spending your later years in the heart of the capital - with the world’s best museums, culture and entertainment on hand, you will never be short of something to do or see.

Luxury living at Riverstone Fulham
Riverstone has two five-star hotel-style developments in the most exclusive postcodes. The properties are in Fulham and Kensington, with a new location coming in Hampstead, and both of them offer exceptional amenities and service.
Riverstone Kensington has one-, two- and three-bed apartments, beautiful interiors and private terraces or balconies, plus gardens designed by RHS Chelsea Flower Show award-winner Andy Sturgeon. Amenities include a gym, spa, restaurant, residents’ lounge, private cinema, games room and exercise studio. Prices start at £785,000 to buy and £922 a week to rent.
Similarly, Riverstone Fulham has extensive amenities and landscaped gardens, with apartments available to buy from £860,000.
A concierge service can arrange for everything from grocery deliveries to booking tickets for shows, and the Riverstone Wellbeing Team is on hand to organise medical support and personal care, should you need it.
It’s all about being part of a community, says Martin Earp, the chief executive of Riverstone. ‘We believe in the positive power that community has, and the beneficial impact it can have on later living. The wonderful thing about Riverstone is that you can be involved as little or as much as you like, meaning you can continue to live independently but you will never feel alone.’ Riverstone has a programme of events, and partnerships with some of the UK’s top arts and cultural institutions, including the Royal Albert Hall, English National Opera and Glyndebourne. Residents can also attend exclusive events with special guest speakers.
‘One minute you might find yourself meeting a new friend for coffee and a game of bridge, then you could be retiring to the bar with a neighbour. Or you might decide to join one of our art classes, take part in a fitness session, or invite the grandchildren over for a movie in our private cinema,’ says Earp. ‘If it’s peace and quiet you seek, nothing beats catching the sunshine in our charming herb garden or escaping to the library to immerse yourself in your favourite book or magazine.’

Park life
Tingdene Residential Parks has 28 communities spread around the country
If you dream is getting away from it all and retiring to a tranquil spot by the sea or in the countryside, then another option to consider is a residential park.
Tingdene Residential Parks manages 28 modern retirement living communities across the country, and has been in business since 1996.
Locations are chosen for their beautiful surroundings and their proximity to local amenities.
Residential parks are full of like-minded people at a similar life stage, meaning you instantly become part of a community. Another attraction is that park homes are low-maintenance and often more affordable than traditional homes. Not only are they cheaper to buy, but they also have lower overheads, such as council tax, maintenance and the cost of utilities.
The only decision you have to make is what kind of park home you’d like to live in and where it is located. There are residential parks all around the country, from Fenland Village in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, to Whitehill Park in Bordon, Hampshire. One of the newest is Trowbridge Lodge Park, in the grounds of a former country estate just outside Trowbridge in Wiltshire. Or for those want to be beside the seaside, there is a choice of three parks in the traditional resort of Clacton-on-Sea in Essex.
Once you have picked your location, you can select an available plot and style of home, from traditional to contemporary or deluxe. An even simpler way to start your new life is to pick one of Tingdene’s existing move-in homes.
Buying one is an easier process than purchasing a traditional home, as land searches are not a legal requirement and there is no stamp duty to pay. The prices vary according to the style of accommodation and which park it is in.
Facilities also vary depending on which location you choose.
To make relocating even more seamless, Tingdene offers an assisted-move service, which involves a dedicated team helping you to sell your home. If you are struggling to find a buyer, the company also has a part-exchange scheme - Tingdene Residential Parks will buy your home, enabling you to move to a park when you are ready to start your retirement journey.