This article is for those of us 55 and over.


You are now on your own, your children have flown the nest, and your spouse is no longer with you.

You rattle around in a big house where every room holds memories and every part of the garden is a reminder of what has been.

You feel lost, lonely and bewildered all at the same time.  You have crying sessions out of the blue and get photos of them enlarged to stand on the dresser.  You feel guilty sometimes that you did not see what was happening or think you should have seen signs earlier.

For the first couple of weeks friends and family are with you constantly, but as time goes by, they must resume their lives and you are left for periods of time with only the phone for company.

People don’t mean to be thoughtless but with remarks such as  “ it’s good you have your children to lean on” etc my children are not my spouse and I certainly will not lean on them and be a burden of sympathy.

Then it strikes you that now you are on your own, you can please yourself if you cook dinner or not, if you stay out late of not, if you go away or not.  A heavy tinge of guilt is accompanying these thoughts but don’t beat yourself up, we all have them, and you would wish them back in a heartbeat if you could.

Another phase in this dramatic change of your life is your security.   You may decide to start and buy items you don’t really want, ornaments, pictures, furniture,  all with the feeling in mind of more and more security, trying to wrap yourself in items of possession.

You still have episodes of forgetting you are now a one-person occupant of the house, and will lay a table for 2, put out 2 cups for a drink and other automatic gestures before your mind pulls you back into line.

Outings you are your spouse shared with friends now seem tense and you feel awkward with others who have partners.

But slowly, your life will take on some sort of new normality again, but in another direction.

You will come to realise life must change and things must move forward.

Letting go of a family home where you have shared with your life partner and children for so many years can be a wrench you feel you can’t make, but to be truthful, neither can you keep up the maintenance of house and garden on  your own, and finances may not permit getting someone else to do it.

Those who have a nice nest egg behind them, may well be able to continue to pay contractors to do jobs we can’t, but for those who are living a very tight life financially, and if you are not a hands on woman when it comes to task your spouse always attended to, the thought of having to call the family every 5 minutes to fix a dripping tap, move the lawns, fix a blown fuse etc. makes you even more certain that while painful, the house must be sold.

Whether you are now a widow or widower here, you must let your head rule your heart and take the plunge to sell the property and move into a property you can manage.

Your choice of the next home you live in will be totally a matter of lifestyle wants and needs.

Here are 3 of many your many options..

  1. You can buy a much smaller, maintenance free unit or house on a much smaller section, close to facilities.
  2. You may think of having an extension built on a family members property where you can live alone but be close to all.

A word of warning !!  Putting all your funds onto someone else’s land is a bad move, even if it is children who you love, and they love you back.  From my experience- it’s not a wise move.

Where will you be if they want to leave the area and sell the property with your home and money on it.

The drawback with this scenario is that it puts pressure on the homeowner if they want to sell and move elsewhere.

  1. You can move into a retirement village.

Retirement Villages in NZ are varied both in cost to enter, costs while a resident and the facilities offered by the Village owners.

The majority have a weekly fee attached to each apartment, and again, this can vary up to $150 a week or more.

Again, most units in a Retirement Village are under a Licence to Occupy situation, so at no time do you ever own either the unit or any part of the land it sits on.  You simply have a lease to occupy the premises.  It is almost like paying rent in advance, yes, years in advance.

If it is your intention to leave your next property to your children when you leave this earth, this is not the way to do it.

While a unit you own outright in a residential area gains in value over the years, your Retirement village unit or apartment unit could increase three-fold in value for the Village Sales Division , but all you or your estate will get back, in a lot of cases, is your original investment less any charges accumulating along the way.

Yet, once you have left the village, somehow the Retirement Village sales staff manage to charge you. For the redecoration of your unit, something you get absolutely no benefit from, and then sell it  to the next occupant at the then present  market value. !!

Yes, there are facilities in many Retirement Villages you can use for enjoyment, often such things as heated indoor swimming pools, outdoor bowling lawn, library, restaurant, and numerous other entertaining pursuits provided by the Village, and often includes a Village Courtesy van who will drive residents to the local shops and back, so yes, I truly admit, it certainly can be a wonderful lifestyle for those with the funds to enjoy it, so if money is not a factor it can be the absolute answer to your moving on quest.

They are usually up to the minute in décor, and attention to detail knows no end.

You need to give a lot of thought as to what will suit your needs in the coming years.

Would you be happy moving to another residential area where you bought a property in a block of 2 or 3 other units, living on your own, in the knowledge your unit will grow in value and eventually your children will reap the reward, or are they stable enough now financially, that you could seriously consider a Retirement Village life for yourself..

You should not make any move lightly and consider all avenues that are open to you.  Well-meaning friends and family will offer a number of opinions and suggestions, but this is your choice and yours alone.

If you are leaning towards Retirement Village living ring and see if they have apartments available, and if they do make an appointment to visit the village and be shown around.

They build retirement Villages to enhance the outdoor life for residents, and you should look further afield than your immediate area at all the different Retirement Village and where the4y are situated.

Speak to your lawyer as to the Legal standing if you intend to purchase Retirement Village Apartment and what your outgoings are going to be.  If you need help, you get WINZ accommodation supplement each week to help with this weekly payment needed..

Keep in mind, if you buy a Retirement village apartment you or your estate will get back nothing like the original amount you paid.  In the majority of cases it will be less.

So many costs are taken out, such as all the redecorating costs the Village pays before they re-sell it,  all the deferred Management costs that come out at the end, the cost of any removal of debris from any alterations that have been made for a disabled person,  and the real estate fees to re-sell it, the list goes on and on.

Buying a unit for say $170,000 15 years ago could yield you as little as $115, 000 when you vacate today, but the Village owners will resell this unit for today’ market value.

But what about those left with nothing to speak of when their partner passes?   Perhaps they have been renting for many years or owe a mortgage and if they sold they would have nothing to buy another property with.

We do get to an age where the bank seems to look at us sideways if we suggest getting a mortgage and they could use every trick in the book to deny us.

This is where our local council and charitable organizations come in.   Your citizens’ advice bureaux will guide youtowardf all those organizations that have Housing for the Elderly at a much reduced rate that market rents.

Rent is very reasonable usually and are mostly  based on a percentage of your fortnightly income.  They build a number quite close to shops and facilities, and the age restriction, often over 65 yrs. means most residents are in retirement. Few of these Villages have any extra facilities other than the units, possibly you may find one with a Community Hall where dances and such are held.

Moving from your home of many years can be a sad time for you but making the right move when you leave is all important,  so be sure the decisions you make are right for you. Until you have all the information, you need and are content with the path your life will take do not put your home on the market.  You need to be sure you are going to be able to move forward in the knowledge you are not going to be stressed financially, so search every avenue that interests you, search costs, and search the value of your own property.  Once all is aligned you are ready to embark on your next life adventure

Good luck, and if you would like us to identify for you the most suited Agent in your area to market your home, please use our free service

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