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Residents Jock and Liz Smith at Richfield Village, Aspendale

by Staff Writers

May 07, 2012

"A big family home needed money spent on it. We needed a new kitchen and we needed a new en suite; it was going to cost us $80,000 to $90,000. Being Scottish, having to spend this money was one of the major deciding factors for us looking at a retirement village.

Jock: "Time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted."

"We met each other as schoolkids in Scotland when we were both about 15, and came to Australia 10 years later. We have been married now for 44 years. I spent most of my career in the Victorian police force, with the majority of that time as a detective, rising through the ranks."

"A big family home needed money spent on it. We needed a new kitchen and we needed a new en suite; it was going to cost us $80,000 to $90,000. Being Scottish, having to spend this money was one of the major deciding factors for us looking at a retirement village. Why invest good money on an old place when we can spend less and get a new one? We didn't consult with the family about moving into a retirement village until we knew exactly what we want to do. It was a two-year journey for us."

"In my professional life, I was always taught that ‘time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted.' We took one and a half years to find the perfect solution and then six months to make the move. It was worth every minute to make sure we got it right; the most important purchase decision that we will ever make. We researched every detail: the purchase conditions, unit prices, fees, services provided and all the legal requirements. We spoke to residents in other villages to get a full appreciation of village life and read lots of articles on retirement villages in general."

"We actually travelled to Queensland to look at a couple villages up there. In the end, we decided to stay around here in Aspendale where we have been for over 37 years. We found out that it was important not to lose contact with the many friends that we knew in the area. Keeping in contact with our doctor was important because he has all of our records, and we like being near the beach. Here at Richfield we are close to the shops and our family are only a few kilometres away. A big factor was that we could store our caravan here because this is our new toy. For the last 10 years we have had a big cruiser, which all the family enjoyed going out on but now there is really just the two of us the caravan gives us freedom. In fact, we have just spent three months up at Nambucca Heads, which was fabulous."

"One of the things that impressed us from the outset here at Richfield was the fact that there was no rush on us to make a decision. In fact, the sales manager and the director would invite us around for a barbecue with the residents and cups of coffee to allow us to get a feel for the place. We could talk to the people who actually live here, with no sales pressure."

"We got a copy of the contract and we went through it with a highlighter pen and marked the parts we were not sure of. Even though I am a career policeman and know quite a bit about the law, it's always wise to get a second opinion from an expert. We put the house up for auction and the fun began! We culled all our stuff - or should I say junk - we had gathered over the years and kept a few pieces of furniture, but that's all."

"A suitable price was accepted prior to auction and a big load was removed from our shoulders; it only took the afternoon for the removalist to move our life from the old house to the new one. When we arrived, a large basket of goodies was delivered from the village manager and our neighbours presented my wife with a rose to welcome us. It was a lot easier than any of us guessed."

"A couple of things have struck me since we moved into the village. The first is the diversity of people that live here; it is actually quite refreshing to have all these new friends from different backgrounds."

"Even though I have been in the police force in all my life, I also find the security reassuring. The main gates close at 6pm and you can control access to just your family and friends from your own villa phone."

"With my Scottish hat on, I also like the costs here because the village managers have negotiated cheaper rates, up to half the old rates at home, for a lot of things. For instance, when we rang the UK the other day a 34-minute phone call cost just $2.78. The village also has its own phone system with all internal village calls costing nothing and outside calls are just $0.14. Electricity and water rates were also reduced. We do not pay for the garden to be maintained and no longer pay caravan storage fees or building insurance."

"Being caravan nomads, we have met other caravan owners here in the village who give us advice and swap travel experience. We are shortly heading off on our next big trip and all we have to do is lock-up, tell the management, family and our neighbours that we're off - and that's it."

Liz: "Jock looked after the financial side of our village move and I looked after the home side; what sort of house we wanted to live in and how we were going to furnish it to make it special and ours."

"The first consideration was Robbie, our dog. He had to come with us and he had to have a yard that he could run in. He got that here and he is a happy boy."

"We love to have the family come around for a big lunch with us. In our old house, we had a huge bar that Jock built; here we created a big alfresco patio that Jock designed to seat 10 people. We can open it up on sunny days and close it off on a wet and windy days and still party on."

"Jock has also built me a shed in the backyard so that I can go out there and paint all year-round; he has his office too which is fitted out with all the computers. Our neighbour John is an IT whiz and he helped Jock set it up. But the shed is my escape."

"I can't believe the kitchen I have here; it is so generous and absolutely top-quality with Caesar-stone benches and really generous gloss polyurethane cupboards. I love it. In our old house, all of our furniture was timber but when we moved in here we had a fresh start. One of the first things I did was buy our white dining room setting, put a big mirror on the wall behind and a wonderful chandelier above it. It looks fabulous and makes the room look huge. The next thing we did was buy a big plasma TV and the two most comfortable recliner leather chairs you will ever sit in. We both love movies, world news and documentaries and with the pay TV we can enjoy it all knowing there are no gardens to maintain or big house to clean. Life is just so easy and free."

For more information on Richfield Village please click here.

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