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How do retirement villages work?

Despite the rise in popularity for retirement villages, with just over 90,000 people across the UK living in one, there is still a lot of uncertainty about what they are actually are and how they work.

As the UK’s leading not-for-profit retirement village developer, we got our team to answer our top 20 FAQ’s to give you a bit more of an insight into the costs, security, care services and more!

How do retirement villages work?

1. Can I rent in a retirement village?

At ExtraCare, we aim to offer affordable one and two bedroom retirement properties with a variety of purchase and rental options to suit your financial situation. Around 80% of our properties are available for outright ownership or shared ownership, with around 20% available for social rent. To discuss the rental process with a consultant, search for your chosen village on our website and see the contact details on that page for the correct staff member.

2. Can I still work and live in a retirement village?

The name “retirement village” isn’t exactly all correct, as we do have a few residents living in our properties that are still working. Generally, these people are just doing bits and bobs part time, and are winding down slowly with the intention of retiring completely. So in short, yes you can still work and live in a retirement village.

3. How much to live in a retirement village?

ExtraCare is a charity, and our principal aim is to ensure that we can offer our residents a truly rewarding lifestyle at a cost that is affordable and fair for all. Our retirement properties are available for sale, shared ownership, or for social rent to suit all financial situations. Please keep in mind that our prices are representative of the area in which they are situated, meaning prices could fluctuate depending on the housing market at the time. This will most likely be a big factor if you are weighing up your options of where to buy a retirement property.

In addition to your property purchase there are on-going monthly charges. These will also vary according to your location:

  • Service Charge
  • Management Charge
  • Amenity Charge
  • Community Charge

We also recently sat down with our in-house Welfare Benefits Advisor, Natalie, discussing how she can help find many residents financial relief. Read more here.

4. What age can I move into a retirement village?

Retirement villages primarily welcome those over the age of 55 with no upper age limit. However, the age that you decide to move in is entirely up to you. It’s a very personal decision that suits different people at different stages of their life. One thing we will say, is that a large number of our current residents say they wished they’d moved in sooner!

5. Which are the best retirement villages?

The answer to this question depends entirely on your personal preferences, your finances, your location and many more factors! What might be a great choice for one, could be the complete opposite to someone else’s ideal. You need to think about which facilities you value the most, are you happy to live in a large village, or would you prefer a smaller housing development?

6. Are retirement villages a good investment?

Buying a retirement property means you are also buying into the lifestyle, the community, the security. Retirement villages provide a solution for the needs of people in later life, such as care if and when it’s needed, alongside a wealth of activities, restaurants, communal spaces and a sociable likeminded environment that you simply don’t get if you stay in your home. A very worthwhile investment if you ask us!

7. Are retirement villages suitable for people with significant health issues?

Currently only 20% of our residents across all of our locations are in receipt of care. That being said, we do offer a wide range of care services, from domiciliary care, dementia care, a wellbeing service and end of life support. Before new residents move in, we will establish any care needs through a care assessment that will be agreed with you. The assessment will involve ExtraCare’s qualified staff and your local social services team, and once your social worker has agreed your personal budget, we can deliver your care services accordingly. However, we must make it clear to any new potential residents, that it is still independent living within the villages, and any extensive care needs we may not be able to facilitate.

8. Can I get a mortgage on a retirement property?

Generally, residents cannot get mortgages on retirement properties due to the buyback clause in the lease. Unfortunately, there aren’t any banks that will lend, so all of ExtraCare’s buyers are cash buyers.

9. Do you have shared ownership retirement property options?

Throughout our 20 retirement villages and smaller housing schemes we have a total of 4,629 residents. 35% of them are leaseholders, 32% are shared-ownership and 33% are social renters. With our model and these purchase options, we aim to reflect the wider community and society within our locations.

10. What happens if I want to sell my retirement property?

If you purchase an ExtraCare retirement property (outright or shared ownership), we will buy the property back from you or your estate (minus some deferred fees and other charges) when you leave. A few things to make a note of:

  • A long-term maintenance fee is taken out of your estate when your property is sold back to us.
  • You may not leave your home to a relative or friend in the area who fits the age criteria – they would need to apply for a place separately.
  • ExtraCare is able to terminate your lease if payments are missed or if any of the leaseholder covenants are breached.

11. Can I bring a pet with me to a retirement village?

We know as animal lovers ourselves, how important pets are to our residents, and the smile they put on our staff’s faces make it even better. So in short, yes you absolutely are allowed to bring your pets along, provided that you are able to manage their requirements and you are able to make full arrangements for your pet to be cared for if you are unwell or away. Click here to see some of our current residents’ furry friends!

12. Are ExtraCare retirement properties furnished?

Our beautiful retirement properties are built to a high specification and boast bespoke design and quality architecture. However, when you move in, your apartment will be completely unfurnished, which will allow you to truly make it your own.

13. Can relatives and friends stay over in a retirement village?

It is your home and you are welcome to have visitors on a short-term basis, you don’t need to get permission. Many of our villages also have guest suites which will be available for a small charge for anyone to stay over.

14. Can I put my name down for a specific retirement property?

At ExtraCare, we ask you to prioritise a selection of apartments, and our sales consultants will endeavour to meet your first choice, although we cannot guarantee this as our properties are not offered on a first come first served basis. However, if you are happy to sit tight and wait for your preference to become available, that is also ok.

15. What security do ExtraCare retirement villages have in place?

The great thing about retirement villages is that when you’re away, you can have complete confidence that your apartment and belongings could not be safer.

Access to the village will be permitted through double doors into a foyer with a staffed reception area. During hours when reception is closed the doors can only be opened by people with access cards or by contacting a resident or a member of staff. Security and safety of our residents and staff is of the utmost importance to us.

16. How big are retirement villages?

Retirement villages can vary greatly in size, however they tend to be relatively large developments, hence the use of the word “village.”

At ExtraCare, our biggest village is Lark Hill in Nottingham with 400 residents. As you can imagine it’s bustling, especially having just had a full refurbishment, and despite it being the largest it still has a substantially big waiting list!

17. Do retirement villages have a shop?

If a village is relatively central in a town or a city, it may not have an on-site shop as there are so many close by. However, if a village is a bit out of the way, they are likely to have a little food shop stocking the essentials. At ExtraCare, any shops that we have on-site are independent shop owners that rent the space in the villages. The shop at Stoke Gifford Village recently won a BBC community award! Read about it here.

18. Do ExtraCare retirement villages have an inhouse care service?

Not all retirement villages offer in-house care, however ExtraCare takes pride in providing exceptional retirement care services for those in our villages who need it. Our services include assisted living support, well-being support, dementia care and end of life care.
You can also meet with our own specialist benefits advisors who can help you to access or update your benefits entitlements, guiding you through the process in complete confidence.

19. Can I make improvements or changes to a retirement property?

Retirement properties are built to a very good standard, with a high quality finish and with all maintenance carried out by professional teams at each location, making it unlikely you will need to do anything to your home to modernise it or to make it suitable for your needs.

However, we do have about 2% of our residents change the décor, with a few choosing to paint or wallpaper the walls, but mostly we’ve found people just leave their apartments as they are.

20. What facilitates facilities do retirement villages have?

Facilities vary from village to village, but some of ExtraCare’s range of excellent communal facilities include:


Dementia & Wellbeing Suite

Woodwork Room

Village Shop

Multi-function Games Room

Library/IT Suite


Licensed Bar

Guest Suite


Dementia and Mental Wellbeing Service


Hobby Room

Communal Parking

Beauty salon

Village Hall



Indoor Bowling Green and Winter Garden

Yoga Studio