Retirement living: oh so many choices!

Retirement living: oh so many choices!

This article provides insight into Retirement Living. Residential Villages / Lifestyle Resorts and much, much more!

Approaching retirement? Perhaps you’re already there and it’s time to do something different – maybe radical, like selling up and moving?

Older Australians are living healthier, more active lives. Choosing the most lifestyle-appropriate housing can be a dilemma. Downsizing is emotional – family homes hold years of memories. Yet doing so may free up enough capital to fulfil all of your lifestyle dreams.

According to a survey by Seniors Housing Online, 97% of retirees are keen on independent living (no surprise there), 78% would like to live in a community environment with recreation facilities, and 60% want their pets with them.

Before making the jump, let’s look at a few popular options.

Retirement villages / Lifestyle resorts / Over 50s villages: Community living can provide on-site security, emergency systems and staff to meet residents’ every need. Some villages include facilities such as cafes, pools, restaurants and cinemas. Style of housing varies from high-rise apartments to single or multiple bedroom villas; the choices are becoming endless as demand increases.

Units are sold by lease arrangement or freehold. What’s the difference?

Lease Freehold
Ownership Operator holds title Resident holds title
Stamp duty N/A Resident pays
Maintenance Operator responsible Residents are responsible for maintenance/repairs to internal fixtures of unit. Body corporate is responsible for roof, walls, grounds and common areas.
Refurbishment Operator pays all or some of the refurbishment costs. Resident responsible.
Title deeds N/A Under a strata title operator may retain.

With any retirement village, standard costs apply. These include:

  • Entry fee for lease/purchase price for freehold;
  • Service/maintenance fee (variable depending on property type and facilities);
  • Exit fee for lease – also known as a departure or deferred management fee.

Important: Retirement village contracts can be complex. It’s imperative that you speak to your financial adviser and a solicitor before making any final decisions.

Granny flats

These structures can provide a nice opportunity to be closer to your family and have a role in the lives of your grandkids.

With so many designs available they can be erected on most residential-zoned blocks. Costs start from around $20,000 for flat-packs to designer units to match your budget. Additional costs include cement slabs, site preparation and connections. Do your homework before making any decisions including contacting your local council to check regulations.

Caravan/motor home

Are the wide open spaces calling and it’s time to hit the road? Living as a grey nomad sounds romantic, but consider the following before trading your home for one with wheels:

  • What if you become ill or need emergency medical attention? Make sure you have appropriate insurance cover.
  • Can you maintain the vehicle? What if it breaks down “out the back of Bourke”?
  • What will you do with your furniture, belongings, etc? Factor in long-term storage.
  • Motor homes and caravans, like cars, depreciate very quickly, especially if you’re planning to travel far and wide. When you’ve gotten the road bug out of your system and want to return to a fixed address, be aware that you may not sell your wheels for as much as you’d planned. This will have an impact on affording your next home.

With so many options available (this article is just the tip of the iceberg), ask your financial adviser to help you achieve the one that suits you best. After all, sixty is the new fifty and there’s living to be done!


  1. a) Not for publication (for research purposes) What are you looking for, survey results About Retirement Villages Granny flats: why they’re a growing trend (Will Keall 28 January 2015) Granny flat builders Is a freehold retirement unit really the best option? (29 September 2012)

  1. b) For publication (for readers’ information)