Retirement special: A great old home

Retirement special: A great old home

- in Real Estate

Retirement home

Mayfield Villages is a stylish, well-planned modern and sophisticated place to retire (Image: NC)

In America, Australia and New Zealand over-60s communities are commonplace yet in the UK people are still suspicious of the cost of living in a retirement village and many reject the idea of “living with old people” rather than with all ages.

But Audley Group, known for its high-end Audley Villages, is hoping to change the way people think about moving into homes purpose built for the older generation.

Its new Mayfield Villages brand is a mid-market solution for people who are put off by the fear of hidden charges and gated communities.

The first, Mayfield Watford, is being built as part of a larger development of around 2,000 units in the Hertfordshire town. It’s the product of many focus groups and, crucially, asking baby boomers exactly what they want, says Audley Group CEO Nick Sanderson.

I despair of young people anticipating what older people want. Our customers are still stylish but just older. Just think what you would want and you won’t go far wrong.

Audley Group CEO Nick Sanderson

“People speculate about how things will change as the baby boomers come through but you have to ask them,” he says.

“I despair of young people anticipating what older people want. Our customers are still stylish but just older. Just think what you would want and you won’t go far wrong.”

Audley Villages are known for their spacious apartments in luxury surroundings including leisure facilities such as spas, swimming pools and restaurants as well as the more usual communal lounge and 24-hour security.

“Everybody who walks through the doors says to themselves, ‘This is a surprise’, but why? If you like it why wouldn’t your parents? You don’t suddenly lose an appreciation for good design and good food or service. You don’t have to put up with something less just because you are older.”

retirement home

An artist’s impression of how the finished Mayfield Watford will look (Image: NC)

The sort of questions Audley Group has asked itself are: Is it successful because this is what people want or is it because this is what is available? The answer it appears is that people want more choice and that is exactly what Audley Group’s Mayfair Villages will offer.

“Mayfield is the same but better,” says Nick.

“The idea of living in your own home with a great lifestyle available and access to staff 24 hours a day with care in your own home as your health changes, it is the same as in the high-end Chalfont Dene at Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire.

“But what we have had to do with Mayfield is make it more available, so we have had to scale it up and make it bigger; make units slightly smaller and trim back the boutique style. But because the development is bigger it is accessible to more people.”

One-bedroom flats at Mayfield Watford will sell from £262,500 (0800 840 9020; and the 253 one and two-bedroom apartments will be centred around Mayfield Club, with its swimming pool, fitness rooms and spa.

There will also be a village hall, bistro and bar with facilities open to the local community. As with Audley Villages, there will be the option of flexible care too – called Mayfield Care.

“The Mayfield launch is to make the same lifestyle and care of higher-end retirement villages available to the people in the middle,” says Nick.

“If you move into the right sort of housing early enough, into an apartment built for purpose with power sockets at the right height, grip rails to keep you stable and it is warm and safe and 24 hours a day you can push a button and somebody can deal with an emergency, it is less likely you are going to have the sort of crisis you may have in your own home. Research proves this,” he says.

Retirement home

One-bedroom flats at Mayfield Watford will sell from £262,500 (0800 840 9020; (Image: NC)

“If you are going to be the person who has to pay for that nursing care it is in your interests to take these decisions earlier in life. We come up with a plan for you and make sure your home is adapted to make it safe. We assess you every year to make sure you are fit,” says Nick, who suggests early to mid-70s as a good time to make those decisions.

“If you have a 70 year old now they were 15 when The Beatles had their first No.1, they are younger than Mick Jagger and were working in the 1970s and 1980s with PCs,” he explains.

“They travelled the world, they have seen how other people live. They have learned their power as a consumer: if they like something they tell you and if they don’t they also tell you.

“They do not want to be patronised. They want housing that is really good quality, modern, contemporary, technically advanced.”

And to underline the difference in how previous generations lived in their retirement, he says: “The biggest complaints I get now are about wifi speed.”

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