Pensioners with life of luxury

CAROLINE CULOT More pensioners are opting to live the luxury lifestyle in Norfolk selling up and “downsizing” to penthouses and plush apartments instead.


More pensioners are opting to live the luxury lifestyle in Norfolk, selling up and "downsizing" to penthouses and plush apartments instead.

Retirement for those who can afford it has never been so good, with older people choosing to buy up the kind of properties which used to be only available to the rich and famous.

The change has come about in Norfolk with the explosion of apartment, loft and penthouse-style homes as developers build the kind of complexes which have been popular in London. And estate agents are finding to their surprise that many of the people snapping them up are the over-60s. One woman in her late eighties recently bought a Norwich penthouse for around £500,000, attracted by a low-maintenance property within walking distance of the city and in a secure, gated complex.

Estate agents say more pensioners are choosing this kind of "lock up and leave" lifestyle, where you can leave your property for months on end to live part of the year abroad or to go on regular holidays, with no worries about security or mainte-nance of a larger property.

Frances Rushmer, new- homes manager for Savills, handling the sale of a luxury development aimed at the over 55s only, Sheringham House, said it was a lifestyle choice. Sheringham House offers 11 penthouses and 53 luxury apartments with facilities such as a swimming pool designed to look like a Far East lagoon.

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She said: "Some people aren't really downsizing as some of the apartments are over 2000sq ft. They appeal to people who are young at heart, who maybe live abroad some of the year, like to have a round of golf and can afford that lifestyle. They don't have to look after the garden and they can simply lock up and leave the property and not have any worries."

For many, buying into the apartment lifestyle is also an investment.

Paul Bennett, sales and marketing director for Charles Church, the developers at the former Norfolk and Norwich Hospital site, said he was surprised how many of the luxury pads had gone to pensioners.

"I thought we would really attract footballers or young people with money and we are - but we have seen a lot of the properties go to pensioners as well, which is great."

David Walker, new-homes manager for Bidwells, handling the sale of this development, said apartment living was attracting a wide range of age groups, but was very suitable for pensioners.

David Cooke, 73, who with his wife Debra, 69, sold up their large house in Bedford to move into an apartment on three floors at Sheringham House, said most developers of retirement complexes just did not allocate enough space.

"They tend to think you are an oldie, you don't need much, you'll be all right until you die. They don't give you enough storage space so it took us eight years to find Sheringham House. We love it here, there is a super gardener and we get our windows cleaned. After you've parked your car in the underground garage, stowed your golf clubs in the custom-built locker, had your TV turned into the gated entrance view and zapped your curtains closed, you can relax with your nightcap and look forward to an amazingly fine style of life," said Mr Cooke.