ONE WOMAN’S noble dream to redefine retirement living in Malaysia is paving the way for others to lead happier and more fulfilling lives in their golden years.
It was 25 years ago that former nurse Siew Yin Leng had a vision to build a centre for her silver-haired peers where they could retire gracefully and continue to lead independent and purposeful lives.
And so, the idea for the GreenAcres Retirement Village – named after the American sitcom starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as a couple who move from New York to a country farm – was born.
The unveiling of the first 26 units of resident-ready single-storey landed villas and a RM10mil community-centric clubhouse at the retirement village in Bandar Meru Raya, Ipoh, marked a step closer for Siew to fully realise her dream.
Total Investment executive director John Chong said another part of the project will be an apartment block providing care for the next phase of the residents’ lives when they were no longer independent.
“Instead of a villa, the residents will be getting a room like a hotel suite with nurses and carers to look after their needs all day and all night,” he said, adding that the entire project with five phases is expected to be completed in 2021.
At GreenAcres, which is inspired by Australian standards, homes and apartments are leased out to residents aged above 55 following an innovative lease structure.
“They are required to pay an upfront deposit from RM300,000 onwards for a lifetime lease in addition to monthly general service charge starting from RM371 and sinking fund which covers the operational cost of the village and access to the facilities and activities at the clubhouse.
“The lease deposit will be refunded to them when they leave,” he said, adding that already, 15 villas under the first phase have been taken up by not just Malaysians but also residents from Canada and Hong Kong.
Earlier during the launch of the project by Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong (pix above, right), Chong (left) said homes at GreenAcres were specially designed to take into consideration what seniors need.
The clubhouse is equipped with a wide range of facilities including a theatre, gymnasium, and hair salon, to make it a place for the enjoyment of residents.
“This clubhouse is also part of our vision to a paradigm shift – that retirement in Malaysia will no longer conjure up images of lifelessness and confinement but rather the liberty to pursue life to the fullest.
“The notion of enhancing a resident’s independence and quality of life extends beyond the clubhouse into the entirety of the development.
“GreenAcres was conceptualised as an open community; each of the homes is designed to open out directly to the linear gardens, which come with manicured gardens, walk paths, gazebo, calming water features and flourishing greens, ready to support active living,” Chong added.
According to Siew, the idea for GreenAcres came about when she visited her mother in a retirement village in Australia where she lived long into her 90s.
“I have also taken every opportunity to visit and speak with people who work and live in retirement villages in my travels to the United States, besides Australia.
“From the stories I’ve heard and from my observations, I realised how satisfying it is to live in a retirement village as it is a life of friendship in a caring and inclusive community.
“We should not retire into nothingness.
“Instead, we should keep active because life really begins after we’ve stopped working and our children have grown up, and here is the place to retire gracefully,” she said.