What exactly do they mean by Independent Living?

When you start your retirement village research you will regularly come across the term Independent Living.

But what does it actually mean?

Physically, the built-form of retirement village units are either a detached villa, a single-level townhouse that may form part of a duplex or triplex, or an apartment. These units are then described as independent living, low-care, high-care or assisted living, depending on the level of services offered by the village to that unit.

Many villages offer a combination of the above, which can also add to the confusion.

The theory is that you first move into an independent living unit, then progress to a unit offering care services as you require more medical assistance or help with day-to-day tasks. In reality however, this rarely occurs.

What typically happens is that a resident will move into an independent living unit and basically stay there until they pass away or require a significant level of medical support. The reason people stay in their independent living units for so long, even if they are not technically independent, is that they can it is so easy to have care services delivered to your home by any number of suppliers that there is simply no need to move into a low-care or serviced apartment.

In most cases it is a better option to stay where you are in your independent living unit. This is because moving is stressful and it typically costs money to move. Furthermore, you will find that most apartments offering care services will try and fit you into a service package that consists of your all food, linen and laundry. There is typically no opportunity to adjust the number of meals or do your own laundry if you so desire.

So in summary:

Dont choose a village because of the availability of serviced apartments on the site, because you can have services brought to your door;
If you do choose a village with serviced apartments, make sure the operator offers a seamless transfer process into the facility at your request, and
Stay in your independent living unit as long as possible.