Robert Bull, CEO of RoyaleLife, predicts a return to bungalow living as an increasingly popular option for residents over the age of 45. Those buyers are responding, choosing to relocate to his company’s specially designed gated communities of single-level homes situated in superb locations throughout the UK. He notes that the idea has gained favour during the past five years with those who look forward to a comfortable life in retirement, perhaps combined with a move to the coast or the countryside.
Defining a Vision
Under Robert Bull’s leadership, RoyaleLife has grown to be a contemporary lifestyle leader from its humble beginnings in 1945 as a family-owned business. As long as a decade ago, Bull says that he recognized a “gap in the market” for the type of quality single-storey homes preferred by those nearing retirement age and was aware that couples of a certain age had become became increasingly interested in downsizing to embrace a more leisurely lifestyle. The company’s entry into the “bungalow lifestyle” market placed the focus on a “low-maintenance and relaxation-focused approach to life.”
“This is a distinctive opportunity for anyone approaching retirement age and represents a hassle-free opportunity to exchange their current home for a modern new bungalow together with an attractive new lifestyle.” There are no hidden costs — RoyaleLife pays the fees for estate agents and solicitors and what’s more there’s no stamp duty to pay — buyers are free to select a location that suits them, with no large-scale removal fees. Bungalows range in price from £149,950 to £550,000.
With 90 developments currently in progress, even more are planned. Bull notes that his company innovates “at every opportunity” as it seeks to redefine bungalow living. He says: “One of the trends that excites me is downsizinginto a bungalow, freeing up equity and using the funds to, perhaps, retire or pursue a better lifestyle without worrying too much about money.”
The very best of quality are the watchwords for RoyaleLife communities: not only as related to design and the materials used, but also in terms of the community experience. Privacy and a sense of belonging are key to that experience, and the developments offer a variety of amenities — among them coffee lounges, swimming pools, landscaped grounds with walking paths or member-only gyms. Each community is unique, designed for its location.
Capitalizing on Opportunity
During the past decade, as UK developers turned away from single-storey homes due to rising land costs and an increasingly urban lifestyle, Bull sought a new direction for his company. RoyaleLife was founded in 1945 as a family-owned firm with the simple, basic principles of hard work, honesty and performance. Today, it has secured its position as leading bungalow developer in the UK for the over-45 age group.
He adds: “I realised that the UK market’s move away from bungalow-style living wasn’t a sign of the bungalow’s slow demise, rather it was an opportunity for anyone willing to fill the gap left by companies that had abandoned the concept.”
Staying Relevant for Changing Times
With 400 plus employees, the Hampshire based company headed by Bull is a “team,” he says, in the best and widest sense of the term. He recently noted that even though he holds overall responsibility for the company’s vision and direction, he seeks input regularly from others. His underlying philosophy is that it’s “vital that everyone in the organisation can have their voice heard, whether it’s suggesting a new idea, sharing an observation or comment, even bringing up valid concerns when the team focuses on developing pro and con lists for possible future projects and initiatives.”
RoyaleLife communities currently exist in Kent, Hampshire, East Anglia, the East Midlands and the North West. More are coming soon throughout the UK, notably to Canterbury in Kent and Christchurch in Dorset and in outstanding locations in Wales and the West Midlands. Many are in the countryside; some are situated near rivers and streams, and select communities feature views of the sea. A sister company, RoyaleResorts, will offer holiday homes with a focus on leisure-time pursuits.
Building for the Future
Bull is currently in his mid-40s, nearing the age when he too might be looking at the advantages of bungalow living for the future. That may be part of why he is so driven by the idea. Add in the adversities faced by those whose retirement planning has been affected by the pandemic, and it’s not difficult to understand RoyaleLife’s commitment to making a transition to a way of new living for its customers as equitable and simple as possible. RoyaleLife’s Home Part Exchange scheme does just that by simplifying the entire process.
He admits that the learning curve was steep as he sought to grow the business. In his early days he was impulsive, he says, but he soon learned the value of planning, adding that he listened carefully to the lawyers and accountants, observing how they dealt with challenges. During an intense period of self-education, he tried to emulate those “best qualities.”
And the future?
Robert Bull confesses to learning much from both his father, who urged him to “take the long view,” and his grandfather, who advised him to invest in land because “they don’t make it anymore.” Right now, he aims to do whatever he can to assure a more comfortable future for the over-45 age group. He notes that he personally is committed to eating the right foods, exercise and hard work. He attributes his success to those who taught him those values, and in downtime he savours time spent with his two young boys.