The difference between a care home and a retirement village

The difference between a care home and a retirement village

As many enter the later stages of their life, they often need either extra care, help and support and want to be around those in a similar situation or position to them from an age and health perspective. There are a multitude of options when this happens but in this article we are going to focus on the difference between a care home and a retirement village, and what may be more appropriate given an individual’s particular circumstance.

A care home is a residential home where (usually elderly) residents live who need help and care with every day activities on a daily basis, whereas retirement villages are larger developments built specifically for older people who usually want to live with more independence.

Which is more appropriate and what are the pros and cons of each? The answer will differ depending on individual circumstances so here are some key deciding factors:


Care homes are by no means cheap – and especially a good quality care home which offers high quality care, facilities and food but they are often not as expensive as a retirement village, particularly a retirement village which has a variety of leisure facilities.

You can own your home in a retirement village so there is financial security and an asset there, but you will usually have multiple other costs on top such as maintenance fees and ground rent which, if you live in a luxury village can add up. You may well also need to pay for care if this is required.

Verdict: Advantage care home (dependent on circumstance).


This is the easiest deciding factor to give a verdict on. One of the key reasons for going into a care home is the round the clock care that’s available. Whilst there are various care options available within a retirement village, it’s not often as important a factor for residents of a retirement village and rarely would the care be as comprehensive as in a care home like ours.

Verdict: Advantage care home.


This is another relatively easy factor to judge. A major benefit of retirement villages is the level of independence you are afforded. In a retirement village, you enjoy the privacy of your own home and the ability to do what you want when you want. This is different to a care home where, although you are given some independence, you have someone there to look after and support you when you need.

Verdict: Advantage retirement village.

Social Environment

This is the hardest factor to judge! Both retirement villages and care homes offer fantastic social environments (when social distancing rules are not in force) so which is better depends a lot on the individual circumstances within a particular care home or retirement village.

In our care home, many residents will socialise and interact with other residents on a daily basis, either at meal times or during the day perhaps during one of our many activities. These activities are organised by our team and there isn’t always the same option available in a retirement village, but as already stated there are options available and more independence to socialise when you want in a retirement village.

Verdict: We will call this one a tie as both have the potential to offer a fantastic social environment.


The quality of a care home or retirement village’s facilities can be highly subjective and it depends a great deal on the individual. We explored this a little in our article which discussed purpose built care homes or home from home care homes.

Both care homes and retirement villages have the opportunity for wonderful facilities, with swimming pools, a café or even a cinema on site but these will come at a higher cost than those that don’t have these facilities.

Many care homes will have beautiful grounds like ours at Birchwood House, but many will be in the middle of a town and not and it can be the same with a retirement village.

Verdict: This is a tough one but we’re giving the slight edge to retirement villages as overall they are often a mini community so likely to have a slightly wider range of facilities than even the most sophisticated care homes.

So what is the best option?

The best option depends very much on the individual circumstances. A fit and able elderly person who has perhaps just lost their partner and is looking to live somewhere with like minded people in a social and vibrant environment will likely be better suited to a retirement village, whereas someone needing round the clock care and wanting to be looked after would prefer a care home.

Whatever your situation, if you have any questions about the care needs of either you or a family member then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team by calling 01892 863559.

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