Gill Smith finds her ideal retirement property in Watlington

Gill Smith was living in a four-bedroom house in Olney, Buckinghamshire when she took the decision to move to a retirement community – and, despite not knowing the area, she chose Beechcroft’s Castle Gardens in Watlington.

“My longer-term goal was to move to a retirement village in my mid-60s – but I have moved earlier than planned,” says Gill. “I had just turned 60 when I started  to look on Rightmove. I thought I would be better moving sooner because it might be more stressful at a later stage.”

Designed for the over 55s, Castle Gardens comprises 41 elegant new homes in a beautifully landscaped setting just off Shirburn Road, less than ½ mile from Watlington High Street.

The new one and two-bedroom apartments and two and three-bedroom houses  are built and finished to a high standard and feature fixtures and fittings designed to promote a healthier living environment. Each comes with a terrace, balcony, private garden or a combination of these as well as allocated parking. The development provides a comfortable residents’ pavilion which has become a social hub and a venue for activities, an estate management service and a private shuttle bus to take homeowners on shopping trips or further afield.

An aerial shot of Castle Gardens, Watlington

Gill didn’t originally plan to move to Watlington, as she explains:

“Originally, I thought about moving to the Cotswolds and, had been looking for around six months when I came across Beechcroft’s development in Burford. I viewed a lovely apartment with a garden there and although I really liked the property, the location wasn’t right for me. My mother is in a care home in Northampton and I visit her twice a week. From Watlington, it’s an hour’s journey and it’s all motorway and dual carriageways.”

“When I first visited Castle Gardens, I had never heard of Watlington. I discovered that, as a small development, Castle Gardens is quiet and peaceful – which is just what I was looking for – and it’s only about 10 minutes’ walk from the centre of town. There’s a sense of community and the neighbours I have met so far have been lovely. Some of the neighbours have invited me to the local U3A but it’s nice because, whilst it’s friendly, we respect each other’s privacy and don’t live in each other’s pockets.”

“I was pleased to discover Beechcroft welcomes pets – so many retirement villages don’t allow dogs and I have a six-year-old Cockapoo, named Coco. Of course, finding a home with a garden for Coco was a priority and, at Castle Gardens, I was able to buy a two-bedroom house with a private enclosed garden. Everyone seems dog friendly here; several of the neighbours have dogs and I have been for a few walks with one of them.  Coco has settled down well. The first thing that came out of the removal van was her dog bed and she sat in the sunroom like a Queen Bee watching the removals.”

A leafy communal garden at Castle Gardens in Watlington
A view from the gardens in Watlington

“It’s lovely to have an estate management service. The window cleaners come regularly and the gardeners come every week and I am happy with that. Living in my former home, it was a chore having to mow the lawn every week. Now, I can sit in the garden and enjoy it because the gardening of my private garden is done for me which gives me more time to enjoy things. The estate management service will also be useful when I go away because there’ll be someone to keep an eye on my home.”

“I moved in during April and my first impression was that I’d done the right thing in terms of location and the type of property. Four weeks after I moved in, I went on holiday and, afterwards, I was really excited to return home to my new house. I feel very settled and secure already. I don’t have any concerns about security and everything is very well thought out. I would highly recommend both the development and the location. The house is very well designed and, despite this being a downsize for me, it doesn’t feel like it. The quality is excellent, the storage is very good and the property is energy efficient. The sales consultant has been supportive and informative throughout the process and the site manager and his team have been great and dealt with any minor problems promptly. All in all, I am delighted at having made the move here.”

For anyone considering a new home at Castle Gardens, one-bedroom apartments currently start from £295,000 and two-bedroom houses are priced from £610,000 (as of August 2023). For further details, please visit the Castle Gardens webpage here.

Castle Gardens

Watlington, Oxfordshire, OX49 5BZ

2 homes currently available from £560,000

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