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Not just a new home, a new lifestyle

Last Updated at December 14th 2020
CONSUMER STORY - When Kevin and Pamela Dring made a sea-change over 20 years ago, they didn't realise they would eventually be city-bound again. But after realising they were too far away from family and feeling like they needed a little bit extra protection, last year the couple decided to move into a retirement village in Sydney's North.
Two older retirees at their retirement village barbecue spot.
Pamela and Kevin Dring from Sydney love their barbecue catchups with their fellow residents. [Source: Supplied]

Australian Unity's Constitution Hill Retirement Village based in Northmead, Sydney, became their new home, following nearly 20 years in Terrigal, New South Wales.

They had moved to Terrigal for the lifestyle that an ocean-side town brings, so their decision to move into their new community was the very same, searching for the ideal lifestyle that suited them.

The pair have only lived in their new retirement apartment for a year, but they have wholeheartedly thrown themselves into their new life in Constitution Hill.

Some of the couples biggest 'musts' when choosing a retirement village included a bowling green and gardening opportunities. However, they didn't realise how much they would enjoy having a café facility, which is a common spot to catch the pair in the morning.

"We certainly don't have any regrets," explains Kevin. "I think that is what we are doing, is investing in a new lifestyle in our ageing years and accommodating for not being as agile as we all used to be.

"And you are in a facility that recognises that and provides a range of activities within those constraints and services that makes your life that much more enjoyable and stress-free."

Pam agrees, saying there were a few things that surprised her about village life, but now that they are settled, they really enjoy the community and lifestyle they are able to lead.

"I didn't think it would be quite so free," says Pam. "Or so many opportunities to do things, hobbies and activities, and again we are lucky because we are in such a nice village. 

"I didn't expect people to be so friendly and open. If you have some query, there is always someone who can set you straight or tell you where to go."

Life doesn't stop in retirement

The couple have lived a busy life, Pam as a former nurse and then full-time mum, and Kevin as a marketing manager and in senior management positions.

Kevin and Pam have kept themselves busy involved with multiple bowling clubs, including the bowling group at Constitution Hill Retirement Village.

During retirement, Kevin says it is really important for people to keep themselves busy with things they enjoy otherwise they will find retirement difficult.

"I think you have got to have something to do. You can't switch off and do nothing. And our salvation - I initially did consultancy work - but the biggest aspect was my voluntary work in bowls administration. That has kept me pretty busy and I am still doing it," says Kevin.

"And Constitution Hill has a very nice full rink, almost brand new, synthetic bowling green. An active group of around about 30 bowlers, men and women. We are maintaining our interest in lawn bowls that way, as opposed to only joining a bowling club. 

"And we joined a gardening club. They have an area of gardening plots where you can continue to grow a few veggies and tomatoes and the like. That is another community aspect we are involved in."

Kevin has also put his hand up to be on the Residents Committee, which has been a big learning curve for him, coming up to date with retirement village legislation and requirements.

Feeling extra safe in their community

Another big hobby for the pair is travelling. Pam always had itchy feet for travel, she says that hasn't changed and they often organise trips around Australia when they can.

Living in a retirement village makes them feel reassured that their home will be protected and taken care of while they are away.

Their family is also very happy with the retirement village decision, as they are now close enough to pop in during the week for a visit, and knowing their parents have a close network of friends within the village.

Kevin says, "I was always concerned that if something happened to me, living in Terrigal, Pam would be left a bit isolated, being an hour and a half away from family. Retirement living in a village overcomes a number of those negatives."

The location has also been a big plus for the pair, as they are close to major hospitals, doctors and shopping centres, along with public transport.

Pam also adds that if something happens in the future, Australian Unity has an aged care facility on-site, which makes access to aged care services easier.

Make the decision

Both Kevin and Pam's advice to people if they are considering a retirement village is to not leave the decision too late.

Kevin and Pam decided to make the move in their 70s, but they wish they made the move earlier, as they would have been able to enjoy their new life sooner.

While they agree it was the right decision for them, the couple recommends people do their research into retirement villages before taking the plunge.

"It's a very personal decision. I think people need to do their homework first and understand what villages offer in terms of lifestyle, facilities, costs - because there is no such thing as a free lunch in this world," explains Kevin.

"You are not moving into aged care, you are moving into a new lifestyle."

Tell us about your experience settling into retirement village life below in the comments.

Related content:

Journey to retirement and how life might change
Preparing yourself for retirement life
Finding purpose in retirement

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