To get the most out of life in a retirement village you need the right attitude, say John and Dee Davies, who have just moved into Ryman’s new Linda Jones village in Hamilton.
“We have always embraced the concept of retirement living so we always knew we’d move into a village,” says Dee.
When they heard that Ryman had bought the land on River Road they went and checked out Ryman’s village in Pukekohe, Possum Bourne, to get a better idea of what was on offer.
“We also know someone at the Logan Campbell village in Auckland so we had a pretty good idea.
“We were living just 1km away so we knew the area and we like the area. My daughter is married to a farmer on River Road so it was perfect really,” Dee says.
The couple, who married 25 years ago after meeting as neighbours in Auckland, moved to Hamilton in 2004, leaving behind John’s busy corporate life working in the pharmaceutical industry.
They are very fond of the area and say it’s the perfect spot to access tramping and cycling routes, which is their big passion.
“We tramp and cycle a lot. We usually go by coach and travel for an hour or so and sometimes we go away for three or four days,” says Dee, who has a new burst of enthusiasm for it since purchasing an electric bike.
“I was always at the back and now it’s no problem. If you can make your recreation pleasurable then why not?
“I think being active keeps you going and interested in things,” she adds.
The couple considers their latest move another great adventure.
“Once the village centre is completed there will be all the facilities in there,” says Dee, who is looking forward to giving bowls a go and using the swimming pool.
Says John: “We have got our tramping and cycling clubs and our friends outside the village and this is another adventure where we’re meeting new people and fostering new friendships and relationships.”
John says it was just a matter of days before he realised a lovely community was forming already.
“I knew that the wife of one of our neighbours had been in hospital and I thought I would go over and check to see how she was doing.
“And as I went over two other neighbours had had exactly the same idea and the four of us ended up talking out on the street. It really struck me then, that in that short time there’s that sense of community,” says John.
Both in their mid-70s, the couple were keen to move in while they were still fit and active.
“It’s better to come in younger when you’re fully fit and then you can get to know people and enjoy the whole exercise,” says John.
“The concept is so good, being in a social environment is better for you.”
The wider family has been most supportive too.
“They kept asking us ‘when are you going into a retirement village?’” says Dee. “They don’t like to think of you on your own.
“My daughter is only 50 and she can’t wait to move into one!” she adds with a laugh.
The hardest part after making that decision was the downsizing. Having come from a four bedroomed house that was twice the size of their new townhouse it meant there were quite a few decisions to make.
“We decided to buy absolutely everything new,” says Dee. “That way we could get everything to suit this place.”
Adds John: “The last six months have been quite stressful, with selling the house, decluttering and then the shift, because we had to shift twice.
“So now that’s all over and behind us and we are so relaxed now.
“Dee made a comment the other day ‘Now I feel like I’m home’ and it really does feel like that already,” he smiles.