The answer to the above seems to be about 0.7% of retired people, over 65, in the UK and quite a lot more, 6%, in the USA. In the way of coincidence, two things happened last week that caused me to pause for a moment to consider did I want to see out our final years in such a setting. The first was an article in The Guardian about retirement villages – Retirement villages do they live up to the glossy hype? and the second was a very glossy brochure, well more like a small book really, about a retirement village that was opening up just down the road from us in Headingley. The thrust of the article was not entirely positive in that its focus was on the difficulty a daughter was having in selling her parent’s retirement home now that they were both dead. The brochure, perhaps predictably, was incredibly positive about the whole life style thing of living in a retirement village. As I say not a concept that generally sits well with retired people in the UK, even in our version/s of Florida.
To say that the brochure showed Headingley (which is definitely not Florida), as a whole, in a good light would be an understatement. I didn’t recognise the area in which we had lived for the last 45 or more years. Who knew it had so much to offer? I wish I’d got out more. All this without even touching on all the complex itself had to offer. If we didn’t live in Headingley would we be tempted by the glossy brochure? Absolutely. Are we interested in the concept of living with presumably like-minded people in a retirement village at this stage of our lives? Definitely not.
Of course the question is why not? It’s true to say we (even Mrs Summerhouse) have never been big on the neighbourly stuff. It’s not that we’re anti-social it’s just that the whole idea of popping in and out of other people’s houses doesn’t appeal. I remember a marvellous Monty Python sketch, I think it was the Piranha Brothers about popping in and out of other people’s homes. Starring Michael Palin using that high-pitched woman’s voice – Ooh yes it was a lovely neighbourhood, people were always popping in and out of each other’s house with each other’s things. Nothing like that of course, just not very neighbourly. We haven’t been to a neighbourhood meeting since we moved here over thirty five years ago. We actually have more to do with our neighbours out in the country than in our Leeds suburb. Are we more inclined to be neighbourly now we’re retired? No, not really.
You don’t quite realise how unneighbourly you are until, as at this point, having bought some lovely plants to put in what we have turned into a big trough (see photo above) (it came from the van and we took it out to facilitate the campervan conversion), we don’t want them to die for lack of water, nor any of our regular plants many of which are in pots, while we are in Ireland for two and a half weeks, so we looked at our neighbours for a possible plant waterer. Under normal circumstances we would probably have asked our daughter and son-in-law to pop in once or twice during our absence. However, they have selfishly chosen to fly to America for about the same period so no go there.
So I started to mentally go through our neighbours and, for a variety of reasons I don’t care to explain, none of them seemed suitable for the position we were offering. We have started going through Mrs SHs yoga class but, as yet, the position remains open. Now if we lived in a retirement village there’s little doubt that this problem would not arise. We would either have lots of neighbours offering to water our plants in return for similar favour later in the year or, and this more likely and, touching on why I don’t want to live in such a setting, we wouldn’t be allowed to put flowers in an old wooden trough we taken out of the van and we certainly wouldn’t be allowed to have an old van with missing bulkhead and spanners and things lying around.
So there’s three negatives against retirement villages without even trying. One, you can’t sell them and lose money if you do, if the above article is to be believed. Two, in the words of Groucho Marx, I wouldn’t want to live in any retirement village that would have me as an owner. Like-minded neighbours, thanks but no thanks. I’ll say this for our street it’s incredibly diverse and I like that even if I don’t actually speak to them. Three, the restrictions on what we could and couldn’t do would certainly annoy me. I can see it now, we’d be in our pyjamas at 8 o’clock getting ready to go to bed and read and some silly old fool would come knocking on the door saying you’re not going to bed at this time, we’re having a cracking game of whist / charades / old people’s quiz, in number 48, get dressed and meet your new neighbours. What do you mean piss off you don’t want to meet the neighbours? That’s not very sociable.
So no, I think not. Of course if I were widowed, God or whoever, forbid, or when we get even more infirmed than we already are then I might change my tune but then, as I probably won’t be turning out this blog, you will never know. There’s no doubt that being retired opens up a whole new range of possible activities but living in a retirement village doesn’t seem likely to be one of them. And, Mrs SH has just reminded me, I should say before closing that our daughter and son-in-law have told us they plan to buy a big house when the old folks lose their mental and / or physical faculties and put his parents in the East wing and us in the West wing or vice versa. And it is true some pigs can fly.