Introduction to retirement villages
Across Australia, almost 200,000 older Australians call a retirement village home.
Moving into a retirement village can be a great way to kick back and enjoy life in your later years but with so many different options out there it can be confusing to figure out the best way to go.
We’ve prepared this simple guide to help you understand the ins and outs of retirement village living.
What is a retirement village?
A retirement village is an age-appropriate housing development that offers a range of accommodation options, services and facilities for older Australians.
The properties, usually referred to as independent living units (ILUs), come in many shapes and sizes, including villas, high or medium-rise apartments and terrace houses.
Services and facilities vary too, and can range from golf courses and theatres to organised social events and 24-hour emergency assistance.
Retirement villages are ideal if you require little or no assistance with daily activities, but want to enjoy the benefits of living in a community with other older Australians.
ILUs are usually cheaper than similar-sized homes in the same area, although there are other costs associated with living in a retirement village.
Benefits of retirement living
Retirement villages are purpose-built for older people, so they offer many advantages. Here are just a few:
- Convenience: Retirement living offer low maintenance living, meaning residents have fewer home and garden chores to deal with, and common areas are looked after by the operator. This frees up time to spend with family and friends and makes it easy to go on holidays.
Social connection: Retirement villages provide lots of opportunities for residents to interact and connect, through shared recreational facilities, community rooms and organised social activities. Many residents report that the social aspect of living in a retirement village is the main reason they are happy with their new living arrangements.
Safety: Feeling safe and secure in your home is really important. Retirement villages have real benefits on this front, both in terms of your health and your physical security. Many offer quick and easy access to help in an emergency, including 24-hour health monitoring. In terms of physical security, you can have peace of mind knowing your neighbours are close by. Many villages are protected by security gates or, at night, security guards.
Independence: There is some evidence that retirement village residents remain independent longer than their counterparts who stay in their own homes. According to a 2014 Property Council of Australia report, retirement village residents typically move into an aged care facility later than people who enter straight from a family home. The research suggests living in age-appropriate facilities with additional health and wellbeing services contributes to this longer independence.
Choosing a retirement village
Selling your home and moving to a retirement village is a big financial and emotional decision so it’s essential you choose wisely.
As you move into the next phase of your life, the most important thing to consider is whether the retirement village will suit your lifestyle now and as your needs change into the future.
We all have different needs and wants so it helps to make a list of the things that matter to you before seeking out a village that will make you happy. Here’s a few thoughts to guide you:
- What type of village will suit your lifestyle. Do you like open space living or apartment city living?
- What community facilities (e.g. Tennis court, cafe, swimming pool, gym, golf course) will support your lifestyle?
- What kind of social activities do you enjoy? (e.g. movie nights, sports clubs, wine groups)?
- Is the village pet-friendly?
- What services does the village offer to support my health, wellbeing and security?
- If my health needs change, is the village co-located with a residential aged care centre that would make it easier for me to access a high level of care?
What are the costs involved?
There are many ways to pay for your new home and the costs will depend on which village you choose and where it’s located.
Remember, don’t sign any contract before getting independent legal and financial advice. It’s essential you get a really good understanding of the different payment options and any ongoing fees, which must be specified in the contract.
You’ll need to consider deposits, the different types of tenure arrangements, any ongoing fees and what happens when you vacate.