Here in the Kaipara — and as part of a national trend — we are seeing an increase in the number of people moving to the region for the retirement lifestyle it offers. Many will have left the city behind, and plan to settle down in a home with views, a plot of land, a pleasant climate and access to the outdoors. It also means that many of our older houses are being renovated to fit the aesthetic and practical needs of our new residents.
While it’s often a matter of necessity to revitalise an older home — and certainly, many above 65 have the skills and ability to undertake such projects with the help of professionals for those more difficult or specialised jobs — it’s also a chance to plan for the future. If this is to be a home for life, that means making it a home, which is easy to enjoy not just today, but into the future. That future may, with life expectancies ever growing, be one in which you can live in your own home well into your eighth or ninth decade.
That means that here, as in other parts of New Zealand, renovation plans should include some ‘independence proofing’, ensuring it’s not just possible but pleasurable to enjoy your retirement home forever. Experts suggest simple things such as ensuring that there are ample wide access doors such as ranch sliders with a low clearance, shallow steps where necessary, easy to maintain kitchens and bathrooms, non-slip flooring and efficient heating. It’s sometimes daunting to consider your needs at the age of 90, but planning ahead means that the home which you are redesigning to enjoy your 60s in will remain practical for decades.
Even modern architects overseas are getting into the habit of designing homes to be future-proof with age in mind. Some in Europe specialise in designing homes for fit, healthy, active retirees who do not need to consider such things as mobility scooter access or ease of ingress to showers and hot tubs — but may well have to think of them in the years to come. It’s all about clever design, and here in New Zealand, it’s more than possible to accomplish such changes during a renovation — for less than you may think. After all, a home is an investment in the future, so it makes sense to think practically about what that future will bring. That means enjoying a great view, a prime spot and a lovely home for longer. Talk to your interior designer, builder, flooring specialist or architect for more information about ways to balance style today with easier living tomorrow.