What to ask when looking for a flat
Major changes can be very exciting. And moving into your own flat is one of the biggest—and most exciting—changes you can make in your life.
Fortunately, independent housing may open up a world of possibilities. With an assortment of services and amenities, independent living and supported accommodations are designed around your lifestyle—even if you need some degree of care or support.
In terms of lifestyle, being part of an independent living community also means you'll have more time for socialising. So if you feel like taking part in different activities, you'll have all kinds of options.
Getting the essential information
If you find that independent housing is the right kind of living arrangement for you, try to get answers to the following questions before deciding where you want to move:
- How many bedrooms are there in the flat? Will you be sharing it with others? Or is there a room for a live-in carer?
- What is the layout of the flat? If a floorplan is available, is it possible get a copy of it that you can keep?
- Who is responsible for repairs, maintenance and cleaning?
- How often are the flats refurbished, and how will you be accommodated during that time?
- How much is the rent and the utility bill? What utilities are included?
- How much money will the council give towards the expenses, and will it cover 24 hour care or just a few hours a day?
- How long will the process take to set up my care package?
- Are background checks performed on the staff? What is staff turnover like?
- What resources are available in the community? Doctors? Grocery stores? Chemists? Transportation? Restaurants?
- What parking is available for visitors?
Additional observations to make on your own
Ask to see the flat (or one similar to it) ahead of time. Look around carefully. Will the space be fully accessible for you? Are light switches and plugs located in places you can easily reach? How much sunlight will you get during the day? Does the flat seem noisy or quiet?
While you're touring the community, try to observe what you can about the neighbourhood too. Do you see a schedule of social activities posted anywhere? Do the other residents seem friendly and eager to socialise? If you have a pet (or want to get one), find out if pets are permitted.
Here are are some additional checklists you can review. While some of the resources may seem to target older residents, the questions are really appropriate for anyone looking to move into an independent housing scheme:
- AgeUK: Care home checklist (while this downloadable document is designed for people looking for residential care, the checklist is helpful for independent living too)
- Ashford Borough Council: Frequently asked questions about sheltered living
- AskIdreace (including answers to frequently asked questions and a form to post your own questions about moving into supported living)
- Choice Care Group: What does supported living look like?
- HousingCare.org: Help for the aged information sheet (see page 13 of the document)
- Which? Elderly Care: Checklists for choosing sheltered housing (including a downloadable checklist)
It is very important for you to get confirmation about certain things ahead of time. If the responses you receive are vague or your questions go unanswered, don't be reluctant to ask your social worker to dig deeper for more satisfying answers.
Visit our Independent living and supported accommodation overview for more guidance on this topic or use our forum for discussion to read a personal account, post your own questions or share your own experiences on this subject.