A guide to finding a retirement property for your parents or grandparents

At Beechcroft, we find that searching for a retirement property is very much a family affair. The children – and grandchildren – of many of our home buyers manage the search and accompany their relatives from the very first visit.

Written by

Sheila Frampton

This is particularly the case for those retirees who are moving to be near family. It’s easier for family members to do some research and take a first look at the development to check whether it’s suitable for older relatives.

Of course, the search for a retirement property is different to the search for a mainstream home. Finding the perfect retirement community for your parents is something of a ‘journey’ and means matching your parents’ needs, lifestyle and budget with the location and the development. In this blog, we identify the key considerations to take into account when finding a retirement property for your parents.

Why should your parents downsize?

As we age, tasks that we used to complete swiftly take far more time and effort. The maintenance of an older family home and garden can become overwhelming. Cleaning a large home is time-consuming and heating rarely-used rooms is expensive. Isolated properties bring even more challenges; getting to the shops, particularly for those who no longer drive, can be difficult.

Winters, when pathways and driveways become perilously icy, can mean that older members of the family may become ‘trapped’ inside their homes. For the retired who enjoy travelling, locking up and leaving an older property is a worry – concerns about security and the prospect of returning to an overgrown garden can overshadow the holiday pleasures.

Initially, the benefits of downsizing may be more obvious to you than to your parents or grandparents, but you need to bear in mind that moving from a family home with a wealth of memories is daunting. They need to process the situation in their own time and will need your help, support, understanding and empathy.


A couple meeting with an estate agent
Two ladies walking down the street in Burford

What to look for in a retirement property for your parents

The old adage ‘location, location, location’ needs to be modified to ‘location, setting, services, facilities, specification and more’ when applied to the search for a retirement property. It is important to find a property that will tempt even the most reluctant older family members to downsize. Here are a few questions you should ask when searching for their ideal home.

How can I find the best location for my parents?

Is the development close to local amenities – including cafes, local shops, medical and dental facilities?

Are there any local clubs or activities on hand? If your parents enjoy walking, cycling or swimming, what is on offer in the local area?

Where are the nearest cinemas, theatres and restaurants for evenings out?

What are the local transport links like? At some stage, they may want to – or need to – relinquish their car.

Should you choose a retirement development or simply a suitable property? 

Do think carefully about this. Retirement developments are designed to suit the over 55s with features that allow the homeowners to enjoy a more relaxed way of life.

New homes on a retirement development are easy to maintain and energy efficient but, equally important, your parents will be living at the heart of a community of like-minded people – and, whilst they’ll be able to maintain their privacy and independence, there will be a whole new social life on hand should they choose to take advantage of it.

What type of property do they require? 

Consider what type of property your parents would prefer – an apartment, a duplex/ split-level apartment or a house?

Many older home buyers equate downsizing to moving to a small apartment but, at Beechcroft, we design elegant homes – both houses and apartments – that provide a generous amount of living space but with fewer bedrooms than you would find in a mainstream home of a comparable size.

Would your parents prefer a terrace, a patio or a small garden – particularly one that is maintained for them? Lift access may also be important; even if they don’t need a lift at the moment, they may well do so in the future.

Are there communal spaces? 

Are there places for your parents to socialise with other homeowners – such as a communal lounge, or even communal gardens with benches?

The older we get, the more likely we are to stay closer to home but socialising is still a vital part of healthy ageing, and the ideal situation is one where we can meet up with other people in a comfortable setting and enjoy coffee and conversation without having to travel. 

Are the landscaped settings suitable?

Research shows that, whilst many over 55s are happy to give up gardening, the majority still miss their gardens so having a beautifully landscaped, fully maintained setting to enjoy is a necessity.

On retirement developments, landscaped settings need to be easily accessible, with level pathways and low-level lighting.

Are there support systems in place?

Is there a support system to help your parents with tasks they no longer feel able to manage?

For example, an Estate Manager is employed on each Beechcroft development, taking responsibility for maintaining the communal areas and both landscaped and private gardens.

The Managers also offer help and advice when necessary and keep an eye on properties whilst owners are away.

Is their new home pet friendly? 

Some retirement communities do not allow pets – even though pets are good for our mental and physical health.

Make sure you choose a retirement development like Beechcroft, where you’re able to keep a dog, cat or other small animal. Maybe your parents aren’t pet owners as yet, but they may be in the near future.

Is their new home energy efficient?

With rising energy costs, energy efficiency is important in all homes and not just those designed for retirement.

Older people need to live in a warm, comfortable, draught-free environment.

ew homes are far more energy-efficient than their older counterparts.

For information on energy efficient, take a look at the Beechcroft blog on energy efficiency.

Does the specification meet their requirements?

Look carefully at the specification of the retirement properties you are researching.

Does the property include carpets and other flooring, fitted wardrobes, vanity units and fitted mirrors in the bathrooms and en-suites, a full range of kitchen appliances?

It is important that the fixtures and fittings are of a high quality. As an added bonus, some new homes are designed to promote good health – easy to clean and with antimicrobial surfaces. 

Is their new home future-proof?

Whilst your parents may be fit and well at present, do think about the future and possible access to care.

Some retirement developments allow an independent lifestyle but offer options for those who may require more specialist care.

On developments with a neighbouring care home, such as Cotswold Gate in Burford, Beechcroft home buyers can benefit from a menu of additional services from hot daily meals and a laundry service to hairdressing and social events – as well as short term respite stays if recovering from an illness or operation.

This is an ideal solution if one of a couple requires long-term care, making it easier to spend time together without having to travel far.

A grandson chasing his dog followed by granddad and grandmother.

How to help your parents downsize

  1. Start with a conversation. In some cases, your parents may acknowledge that it’s time to downsize, whilst others may be reluctant. How do they feel about their current living situation – would a new environment and a more relaxed lifestyle enhance their lives? Would they like to move closer to you and be able to enjoy more quality time with you – and any grandchildren. Have they always wanted to live in a particular area – for example, the Cotswolds? Now could be the best time to make the move.

  2. The earlier the decluttering process begins, the easier it is. Get other family members involved and begin to sort out the attic, the garage or any other storage areas. Even if your parents don’t intend to move home in the near future, decluttering is advisable. It can also be pleasurable giving you all the opportunity to reminisce – to rediscover long-forgotten toys, valuable family photos and other items. Take a look at our blog on decluttering.

  3. If your parents have come around to the idea of downsizing, you’ll need to get an idea of how much equity they have in their property which will be used to pay for their new home. You can do this by checking on house prices in the area on websites like Rightmove or Zoopla or by asking local estate agents for a valuation.

  4. Take a look at what is on offer in the local area. There are a host of property portals that allow you to search online for suitable retirement homes in the areas where your parents would like to live.

  5. Visit the development with your parents – you’ll be able to ask questions they may not have thought about and to discuss it with them after the visit.

  6. Check what is included in the service charges – these cover the running costs and maintenance of the development. They should cover external maintenance including external window cleaning and building insurance.

  7. Ask about exit fees, transfer fees or deferred management fees. Some retirement community developers charge a percentage of the resale price on exit. The reason for these fees is in order to ensure the ongoing service charges are kept at a more reasonable level – subsidised – and provide the village with a sinking fund which can cover the cost of major works. The deferred management fees can vary significantly depending on the retirement developer. Beechcroft has never charged exit fees.

  8. Find out whether it is possible to sell the new retirement property on the open market to a home buyer who meets the age criteria, should you need to do so in the future.

An older lady enjoying coffee with a friend
A retired couple sitting on a bench by the water
A mother and daughter drinking lemonade together

Latest articles

Get regular updates from us

We’ll email you details of the latest properties, exclusive events and real life stories straight into your inbox.