Retirement villages can relieve boredom for some. Photo: Flickr user Ernst Moeksis

If you're nearing retirement or aren't entirely happy with your current retirement, you might think of moving into a retirement village. It can be one of the best decisions you ever make -- or it can turn into one of your biggest regrets. Think the decision through carefully after gathering a lot of information and perspectives. Here are some pros and cons of retirement villages.

Retirement villages: Yea

For starters, you'll have more peace of mind in terms of health, as medical help is never far away. In many retirement communities, you'll start out in a rather self-sufficient living unit, and then, if you become less able to take care of yourself, transition to one that offers more care. An aspect of this that many appreciate is that you're not being a burden on your children or other loved ones. Instead, the retirement village staff takes care of many of your daily needs.

You may have more peace of mind regarding your safety, too, as you'll no longer be living on your own. You'll be part of a complex with security provisions.

Life will be easier. You will no longer be responsible for maintaining a large home or property. No more calling for a snow plow or having your house painted. You probably won't have to prepare meals, either, unless you want to. Many retirement villages have nice dining facilities.

You can have a richer social life. If you're currently too isolated, you'll suddenly be surrounded by others with time on their hands, many of whom likely share some interests and also share concerns and experiences. Retirement communities tend to offer lots of activities for their residents, too, and transportation to shops and attractions. Some are located on or very near golf clubs or other attractions, too, offering easy access to recreation.

Retirement communities can be social places. Photo: EPA.

You might save money by moving, too. Some retirement communities may cost more than you currently pay for your accommodations, though – but it might seem worth it once you compare the costs and benefits. The costs will depend, in part, on exactly what kind of retirement-village housing you opt for – a small apartment, a bigger one, or even a modest house. (When you compare costs, be sure to include expenses such as home insurance, repairs, utilities, and property taxes in your current outlay for housing!)

Retirement villages: Nay

Still, though some retirement villages might seem like a bargain, many -- despite your factoring in property taxes, home insurance, and so on -- will just be more expensive, and sometimes much more expensive. Retirement villages get even more costly as you consume more of their services, such as if you need a lot of assistance with daily living or nursing care.

Being in a retirement community does offer you instant community and lots of potential new friends, but it's not what everyone likes. If you want friends of all ages and enjoy interacting with young people, you might be frustrated that most people in the community are older. It might be depressing, too, watching many folks there get frailer as they age. Meanwhile, your move might mean that you're now further from your friends and loved ones and don't see them as often.

If you like your independence, you may chafe at giving some of that up, and having to heed some rules and regulations. Similarly, if you crave some solitude and quiet, you may find a retirement community too busy or noisy. Some people's personalities are just not a great fit for life in a retirement community.

You might also reject the idea of moving into a retirement village simply because of the moving. It's no small matter to downsize significantly, paring down your belongings, saying goodbye to many valued items, and moving into an unfamiliar setting.

Not all retirement communities offer the best care. Many don't pay generous wages, so they experience high turnover and don't attract the most skilled caregivers. This doesn't mean you should rule out the entire concept, but do look into a given facilities' ratings and reputation and give it a close look before moving in. Ask questions, such as what the turnover rate is, how much training workers get, if there are background checks done before hiring, and so on.

Retirement villages can be costly. Image: Flickr user Philip Taylor.

Not always a choice

The hard truth, though, is that many people end up without much of a choice in the matter. If your loved ones can't care for you in your home or theirs, and home healthcare assistance isn't enough, you may have to check into a retirement village. If so, or if you're heading to one because you want to, be sure to take the time to review many of them to see which is the best fit, lifestyle-wise and financially. Visiting each contender, ask yourself how well you might fit in, if you try, and what you might enjoy there.

Note that some retirement villages welcome active people even in their 50s, and moving into such a place while you're still relatively young and active can have you making youngish friends and feeling at home there well before you end up needing nursing care.