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McCarthy & Stone: want to road test a retirement apartment and report back for Gransnet? You could win £200! NOW CLOSED

(39 Posts)
JustineBGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 06-Feb-18 11:27:39

We have been asked by the team at McCarthy & Stone, the UK’s leading retirement house builder, to find 18 Gransnet users to discover what life is really like at one of their developments and report back on Gransnet.

They say:

“At McCarthy & Stone we know that often the best way of getting our customers to experience the lifestyle at one of our retirement developments, and its many benefits, is to try it for themselves.

“We will be recruiting a number of Gransnet testers to go forward and review our unique ‘Experience the Lifestyle’ offer, which effectively lets you ‘try before you buy’. Following your stay each tester will also receive a £50 Marks and Spencer voucher to spend as they wish.

“It’s no strings attached - we simply ask that you take a tour of the development with a sales consultant during your stay. It’s really a chance to demonstrate what living at a McCarthy & Stone development is really like. It could even surprise you! We have limited availability on a number of complimentary one night stays in one of our fully furnished apartments or guest suites with continental breakfast included.”

There are three different product options to choose from – each one is designed to suit a different stage of retirement, so you’re able to select which best fits with your personal needs and requirements
These are: Lifestyle Living, Retirement Living
and Retirement Living Plus.

Selected testers can also choose from a range of locations depending on where they currently live if you want to stay in the local area, or specific areas you like the look of and would consider moving further afield for. You will however need to make your own way to the property.

What you’ll experience

“Retirement Living” is for anyone aged 60 and over. It’s all about creating a safe and secure environment in which you can be as independent as you like, either socialising in the homeowners’ lounge where testers will have the opportunity to enjoy a cup of tea and a chat with some of the homeowners, or enjoy peace and quiet in your own apartment.

It’s also about making life easier which is where the friendly House Manager comes in, who oversees the smooth running of the development. Testers will be able to enjoy the landscaped gardens, maintained and looked after by McCarthy & Stone’s expert team, as well as join in with the various social clubs and activities on offer if they choose, such as coffee mornings, film nights, and get a great feel for the local area by exploring the various shops, cafes and amenities nearby.

If you’re looking for a little extra on-site care, in the form of domestic help or assistance, McCarthy & Stone can arrange for your stay to be in a “Retirement Living Plus” development. These are aimed at people aged 70 and over and offer all of the above, plus a range of additional facilities to make life easier such as an on-site restaurant serving freshly prepared meals, and an expert team that are on duty 24 hours a day offering tailored support packages to suit your individual needs.

If you’re a slightly younger retiree you may want to stay in a “Lifestyle Living” development. These are exclusively aimed at people aged 55 and over who are in the earlier stages of retirement and are seeking to downsize for their leisure years. Lifestyle Living apartments have less communal aspects than Retirement Living or Retirement Living Plus developments but are low maintenance and incorporate beautiful design providing comfort and privacy. Added security features offer extra peace of mind if you want to ‘lock up and leave’ when you set off on holidays.

The properties available (17) for this road test are below and you can pick your preference on the sign up form:

· Bowes Lyon Court, Poundbury (Retirement Living Plus)
· Walmsley Place, Bishops Waltham (Lifestyle Living)
· Lock House, Taunton (Retirement Living)
· Tantallon Court, North Berwick (Retirement Living)
· Beacon Court, Anstruther (Retirement Living)
· Swift House, Maidenhead (Retirement Living Plus)
· The Clockhouse, Guildford (Retirement Living Plus)
· Randolph House, Harrow (Retirement Living Plus)
· Eleanor House, St Albans (Retirement Living Plus)
· Lonsdale Park, Oakham (Retirement Living)
· Mulberry Court, Blaby (Retirement Living)
· Keatley Place, Moreton-in-Marsh (Retirement Living)
· Bilberry Place, Bromsgrove (Retirement Living Plus)
· Williamson Court, Lancaster (Retirement Living Plus)
· Lido Grange, Prestatyn (Retirement Living)
· Devonshire Grange, Roundhay (Retirement Living)
· Sovereign Court, Stamford Bridge (Lifestyle Living)

Additional Requirements and T&Cs here

All selected testers will receive a £50 Marks and Spencer voucher following their stay and all selected testers will be asked to add feedback to a thread on Gransnet after their visit; everyone who does will be entered into a prize draw where one tester will also win a £200 Marks and Spencer voucher (from Gransnet).

If you’d like to take part please add your details here.

We will be in touch with those shortlisted soon.

Any questions, please ask on the thread

Please note: this thread is monitored Monday - Friday, 0800-1700. If you ask questions outside of this time, there may be a delayed response.



trisher Wed 07-Feb-18 11:20:21

I'm wondering about the age restrictions. I am 70+ but I am a young and active 70+ and I don't want extra help at all yet. In fact I would probably prefer to live with some younger people just now. I wonder what happens if you are in a Retirement or Lifestyle Living property and you become less healthy?mobile? Do you have to move?

Minerva Wed 07-Feb-18 12:43:36

I am 76 but don’t need assistance and would much rather live with younger people. I would like to ask the same question as trisher.

JustineBGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 07-Feb-18 17:27:00

Hi both - we have the below information from McCarthy & Stone for you:

"Many thanks for your comments. The ages stated above are intended to be a guide. We can be flexible when it comes to the ages of the homeowners we welcome to our developments, as we want to ensure retirees find the development that meets their individual requirements.

Retirement Living Plus is the perfect option for those looking for more of a ‘future-proof’ solution as homeowners can access tailored support services to meet their changing needs; however we find there are many over 70s living very active and fulfilled lives in our Retirement Living and Lifestyle Living developments.

We would suggest calling McCarthy & Stone on 0800 1533314 or visiting your nearest development(s) and taking a closer look. Our teams are very friendly and helpful, and they can provide advice and guidance on the options – in your local area and beyond – that might best suit you. "

lizzypopbottle Wed 07-Feb-18 22:27:11

Can I bring my dog?

ElaineI Wed 07-Feb-18 23:32:31

Why none in Scotland? Particularly Edinburgh. There are Mccarthy and Stone developments here.

glammanana Thu 08-Feb-18 11:36:41

I have visited one M&S development and was very impressed with the setup and I am sure I saw a lady who had brought her little dog with her lizzypopbottle some of the people had even been able to bring some of their favourite plants with them for replanting in the communial gardens.

Largolass Thu 08-Feb-18 12:44:15

There are two M&S developments in Scotland mentioned on the list one in North Berwick not too far from Edinburgh and the other in Anstruther which I drove past this morning!!

JustineBGransnet (GNHQ) Fri 09-Feb-18 09:50:03

lizziepopbottle - we have the below information on pets from McCarthy & Stone:

"For the purposes of our ‘Experience the Lifestyle’ offer we don’t normally accept pets for what is a short stay, however we completely understand how important the companionship of a pet can be, so we welcome a well behaved pet to live with homeowners in their apartment. A quick chat with the Sales Executive at the development will be able to provide further details"

Teetime Fri 09-Feb-18 11:23:36

We went to visit a M and S in Grantham and were really horrified at the restrictions (no washing to be hung out, no storage for things like golf clubs, sporting equipment) and the service charges were very high you pay extra for a parking space and no designated spaces. In market terms we thought the purchase price was very high and the resales are very slow.

annsixty Fri 09-Feb-18 14:01:08

A friend of mine moved into one last year, it it very nice but oh so small.
It only has one bedroom and the living space is tiny to me.
Communal laundry and no room to feed friends and family.
She seems happy but is the sort who wouldn't say if she wasn't.

Charleygirl Fri 09-Feb-18 14:21:41

Elaine1 there is one in Anstruther.

JustineBGransnet (GNHQ) Fri 09-Feb-18 18:10:00

Thanks all for your queries! We have the below information from McCarthy & Stone:

"Thank you for sharing your recent experience with us. All of our apartments are built with the latest high specification fittings, as well as clever storage solutions to maximise space as much as possible; however we do understand that downsizing from a larger property with lots of belongings, can be a stressful process. To help with this we offer a ‘Smooth Move’ service where our removals experts can assist you with anything you might need from packing ready to move, to de-cluttering, to transporting everything safely to your new home.

When you buy one of our properties, you can sit back and let our team of professionals take care of all the maintenance of communal and external areas. This is covered in the monthly service charge. It also covers the cost of the House Manager/Estates Manager to ensure everything runs smoothly, security, buildings insurance, laundry facilities, maintenance, water and sewerage, window cleaning and heating of the communal areas.

At our Retirement Living PLUS properties the service charge also covers staff on-site 24/7, a chef to prepare lunch-time meals and one hour of domestic assistance per week, to use as you wish.

You can find more information on our service charges here:

The value of retirement housing is more than simply financial, it’s a lifestyle choice; and the pricing at the majority of our developments does track the local market.

We recently introduced a new in-house service to provide specialist support to homeowners who wish to sell their apartment. They are there to help homeowners throughout the process, so they can sell their apartment quickly, and for the best price.

You can find more information on this here:

M0nica Fri 09-Feb-18 18:45:19

My complaint about all retirement housing, not specifically, M&S, is that it is just too small. Generally the older you get, the more your life is spent in your home and I would go stir crazy in most retirement homes I have visited.

The one exception is Hartrigg Oaks in York, the first retirement community in the UK and developed by the charity, the Rowntree Trust. The properties are large 2 en suite bedroomed bungalows with large rooms, large doors and wheelchair friendly. The roof/attic area is one large space approached by a straight staircase made for stairlifts.

My friend who lives there is a musician, and uses the space as a music and rehearsal space. other residents have transformed it into a workshop, library, craft room, grandchildren's rumpus room and many other purposes. unfortunately they are so popular, you have to put your name down at birth to ever get one.

GrannieAnnie123 Wed 14-Feb-18 18:56:52

Am interested but there does not seem to be anything in Kent.

Marieeliz Thu 15-Feb-18 10:32:32

Re pets M&S need to be clear about this. I friend of mine bought an apartment, she had been living with an elderly relative who had died. She had to move quickly as house was sold. She had a new small yorkie, she was told she could bring it with her. Later she was informed that there had been a committe meeting of the residents who had objected to the dog coming. It was too late for her to change her mind as all the paper work had been done. She had to look for a home for her dearly loved pet. I would never use M&S for that reason. Although I am looking to downsize as I have no close family.

JustineBGransnet (GNHQ) Fri 16-Feb-18 14:02:15

GrannieAnnie123 - we've been informed that the best location for you would be Swift House (in Maidenhead, Kent).

Crafting Fri 16-Feb-18 19:28:49

JustineB Swifthouse in Maidenhead is not in Kent it is in Maidenhead Berkshire. I know because I pass it most weeks.

Loiria Sat 17-Feb-18 22:56:59

In 2012 the channel 4 programme exposed the problems prople have with McCarthy & Stone retirement homes. See for yourself at:-

Personally I would advise anyone to think most carefully about buying leasehold. They should check the fees for grounds maintenance and the building care and insurance charges plus costs like, heating window cleaning and so forth. These, I know have built up with folk I've met to the point that they have become desperate. Add to this, the fact that apartments cannot be readily sold at the end of ownership makes these ventures dangerous for the unwary. Anyone without relatives who can look into all the figurework with them should seek guidance from
Citizens' Advice:-
Best of luck!

OldMeg Sun 18-Feb-18 07:54:54

So this company is looking for someone who might be thinking of buying/leasing one such property and giving them a chance to try it out first OR are they just looking for someone in the right age range to test it out and simply report back.

If it’s the latter I might be willing to test out (Morton-in-Marsh) and report back but I’m not prepared to be put under any pressure to buy.

JustineBGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 19-Feb-18 13:36:38

Loiria - we have the below additional information from McCarthy & Stone:

" There are important considerations when buying leasehold. With regard to the points made above, McCarthy & Stone is one of only a small number of retirement developers to offer 999 year leases. This was introduced as part of a series of measures to improve our products, and which has resulted in improved saleability and greater retained value. These also included:

- Setting up an in-house management services team in 2010 with a dedication to high standards, providing a single end-to-end service for customers
- Providing more internal space, en-suites, underfloor heating, walk-in wardrobes, improved bathrooms, level-access showers and enhanced kitchens
- Removing exit fees and introducing 999 year leases
- Increasing car parking ratios

With regard to service charges, we find it can often be cheaper to live with us than a customers’ previous property. We do not charge commission on any services and our electricity and heating bills are often lower. The services covered by the service charge cover a range of day-to-day expenses such as the House Manager, scheme security, buildings insurance, laundry facilities, maintenance, water, sewerage, window cleaning and heating of the communal areas, and they provide good value for money. On average, a person’s outgoings on like-for-like services are no more expensive than their previous property. In many cases, there can be a saving.

Also service charges are agreed in consultation with homeowners through an open-book budgeting process. McCarthy & Stone has developed a simple chart to help homeowners make a direct comparison for use during the sales process. When a customer wishes to purchase an apartment, a McCarthy & Stone consultant will sit down with the customer to help them fill in service charge costs, review what is covered and compare this with day-to-day running costs in their current home.

The vast majority of our properties also increase in value when resold. However, as well as buying a beautiful apartment, our customers also recognise that they are buying into a lifestyle based around security and companionship, ease of maintenance, and enhanced wellbeing. As a result, the value of living in retirement housing is more than simply financial; it is also about helping our customers to live independently and have healthier, happier and, hopefully, longer lives.

At McCarthy & Stone we recognise that there is a need to support customers and their families if and when they need to re-sell their apartment; so we’ve introduced a new dedicated in-house resale service which is there to help homeowners throughout the process, and to liaise with local estate agents to ensure they properly understand retirement housing and how it should be valued, to achieve the best price.

For more information, please visit:

JustineBGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 19-Feb-18 13:37:55

OldMeg - we have the below from McCarthy & Stone:

"Many thanks for your enquiry. The main aim behind this is to demonstrate what living at a McCarthy & Stone development is really like. Our ‘Experience the Lifestyle’ offer effectively lets you try out a property before you buy, which is not something you can generally do with most housebuilders. That’s because we understand that as well as buying a low maintenance, modern retirement apartment, you are also buying into a lifestyle based around security, companionship, reduced responsibilities etc; and what better way to get a feel for this, than to come and spend time there. Ideally, you would be someone that is considering downsizing in the area now or sometime in the future, and who wants to understand the various different options available to you. After which you’ll share your experiences with other Grans net users, so they too can get an understanding of what Retirement Living is all about, and why it could be a good lifestyle choice for them.

You are not obliged to do anything after your stay, you are simply asked to take a tour of the development with the Sales Executive while you are there, so they can show you around and point out all the different facilities, and be there to answer any questions you may have.

Hope that helps. We would suggest calling McCarthy & Stone on 0800 1533314 or visiting Keately Place in Moreton-in-Marsh and taking a closer look.

JustineBGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 19-Feb-18 13:39:35

McCarthy & Stone have also asked us to pass on the below information regarding pets:

“We understand how important the companionship of a pet can be so we do adopt a pet-friendly policy at many of our developments. We work with everyone homeowner on an individual basis to determine the suitability and needs of their pet, and they can contact the Sales Executive for further details or to discuss this.”

jollyg Mon 19-Feb-18 15:09:00


they are having problems selling their flats.

The company went from being in-home to being bought out by others who saw equity in the company. This would no doubt enhance the equity buyers.

I would not touch it with a barge pole. BEWARE

M0nica Mon 19-Feb-18 17:03:28

I suspect that the main reason they cannot sell their flats at present is because the housing market has slowed down and potential buyers cannot sell their houses.

I live in South Oxfordshire, where new jobs are being created daily, many well paid, but there are houses in our village, newly renovated, that have been on the market for a year or more.