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A Guide to Retirement Villages In Australia

A retirement village is essentially a managed community for seniors, although the term is something of a misnomer because you don’t necessarily have to be retired at all. Entry is generally restricted to people who are over 55 years of age or have retired from full-time employment, and their spouses.

Each Australian State and Territory has enacted specific retirement villages legislation that defines what is and what is not a retirement village for the purposes of the legislation and regulates many aspects of the relationship between retirement village operators and their residents and prospective residents.

Manufactured home villages for those over 50 and rental villages for those over 50 are also managed communities for seniors, even though they generally don’t fall within the technical definition of a retirement village under the relevant retirement village legislation and are regulated by specific manufactured home and tenancy legislation.

Retirement villages, manufactured home villages and rental villages may also be called, described or referred to as over 55's villages, over 50's villages, lifestyle villages, lifestyle resorts, lifestyle communities, lifestyle estates, retirement resorts, retirement communities, retirement estates or retirement homes.

When we refer to retirement villages on this website, we generally mean retirement villages for the over 55s, manufactured home villages for the over 50s and rental villages for the over 50s, whatever they may be called and however they may be described or referred to.

What Are The Main Benefits Of Retirement Village Living?

The first and most obvious benefit of retirement village living is community. Being part of a community of like minded 55+ or 50+ people and enjoying the social contact, interaction, companionship and physical and emotional security that it provides is priceless.

The second benefit of retirement village living is lifestyle and convenience. Most retirement villages offer a range of shared common areas and facilities and relatively low maintenance homes and gardens that you can “lock and leave” if you want to travel. Many are geographically situated in desirable locations and are close to appropriate amenities and services.

The third benefit of retirement village living is flexible services. Most retirement villages offer independent living units (ILUs), which are sometimes called self care units or apartments, and provide a range of general services for the benefit of all residents. Many also offer additional services, sometimes including personal care, on an “as required” and “pay as you go” basis. So as your needs change, the services you receive can be adjusted accordingly. Some retirement villages also offer serviced apartments, which are sometimes called assisted living units or apartments. These apartments are usually offered with a standard package of services, such as housekeeping, meals and laundry and linen. If you require more services than the village offers, you can also arrange additional home care services privately.

The fourth benefit of retirement village living is purely economic. Facilities and services can be provided to a community of seniors more efficiently than they can be provided to a dispersed group of individuals. It is of course important to ensure that the benefit of this efficiency is equitably shared between the operator (as profit) and the residents (through lower costs and charges).

Are There Any Negatives To Retirement Village Living?

The main difficulty with retirement villages is their complexity, which is largely the result of:

  • the range of different and sometimes unfamiliar legal structures that are used
  • extensive legal documentation that can vary significantly from village to village, even where the same legal structure is used
  • financial arrangements that are complicated and unusual and can vary significantly from village to village
  • legislation that is different in each State and Territory.

The financial arrangements include ongoing recurrent charges and also usually include a unique fee, called a departure fee, exit fee, deferred management fee or DMF, which is paid when the resident permanently vacates the premises. The formula used to calculate this fee can vary from village to village, making it difficult to shop around and compare homes in different retirement villages because there is much more to consider than just the respective entry prices.

Confusion about the financial arrangements and what happens when the home is permanently vacated have historically been the cause of most of the problems and disputes associated with retirement villages. In most States, the retirement village legislation has increased disclosure requirements and clarified the resale process, but it is still very important to do proper due diligence and understand the legal and financial arrangements before you make a commitment.

Getting help can be difficult because there are relatively few lawyers, financial advisers and real estate agents with comprehensive retirement village experience.

Finding rental accommodation in the main metropolitan centres like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Canberra and Darwin can also be a challenge.

How Do You Find The Right Retirement Village?

At the top of this page you will find our retirement village search facility, which you can use to find and review retirement villages, lifestyle villages, lifestyle resorts, retirement resorts, retirement communities, retirement estates, retirement homes, manufactured home villages and rental villages, across Australia and New Zealand, for those who are 55 plus or 50 plus, depending on the type of village. The listings include information, photos, contact details and website links.

More Information?

Please see the following pages of this Retirement Villages Guide for further information:

  1. An Overview (This Page)

  2. Top Ten Tips

  3. Services and Levels of Care

  4. Financial Considerations & Departure Fees

  5. Departure Fee Calculator

  6. Rental Accommodation

  7. Pets

  8. Legal Structures

  9. Legislation

  10. Publications

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