Is retirement village living right for you?

A couple consider retirement village options together

When you reach the age that downsizing from your large family home is on your mind, there are a number of accommodation options open to you.

But deciding which one is right for you and your lifestyle (as well as your budget) can feel overwhelming. To help you make your next move a positive one, understanding if retirement village living will suit you is an important question to consider.

Will retirement village living suit your lifestyle?

Before you choose retirement village living, think of the people who know you best and ask them what they think to help you decide. They may have their own experience of retirement village living to share. But because moving into retirement village living is a huge financial consideration, it’s important to speak to your trusted accountant or financial adviser to crunch the numbers too. There are also numerous businesses that specialise in helping people understand the transition to retirement living options.

By explaining what your needs are, and what freedoms you still want to enjoy, they can give you a clearer sense of what retirement village living can offer you – and the financial reality – to help you decide if it is the best choice for you at this stage in your life. It may be that by talking to family, friends and specialist retirement living transition advisers, you can explore other accommodation options that might offer you the lifestyle you want.

What other options are there?

Different factors drive people towards choosing retirement village living as their next move.

If you are part of a couple and your partner has health issues that require careful ongoing management, retirement village living may place you closer to the next obvious stage of their care – residential aged care. But by understanding other alternatives, including home help, or support from government or other agencies – or even to a smaller home closer to adult children or extended family members who are committed to supporting your changing needs – you may have other options that suit you better.

To help you decide if retirement village living is right for you, taking these four steps is a good start.

  1. Make a list of your must-haves, when it comes to living in a retirement village, as well as another list of the features you don’t need. This can help you weigh up your retirement village options – especially if budget is a consideration. Sure, having access to all those social clubs and nightly cocktails and karaoke in the community hall might look fun on the brochure, but if you already have your own rich social life and network of family and friends to be out and about with, it may not be worth forking out thousands more for an activity roster you don’t plan to utilise.
  2. Ask for expert advice. If you are looking at specific retirement villages already, get the contract checked by a trusted lawyer and/or financial adviser to help you have a clear understanding of your financial and legal obligations – before you sign.
  3. If you are committed to retirement village living, shop around to see all the available options to find one with the amenities and price point to suit your circumstances.
  4. Don’t feel pressured into making a decision. Remember, the people trying to convince you to buy into their retirement village are salespeople.

Make sure you understand all the fees and charges

Depending on the retirement village, there may be a joining fee just to get on their waiting list.

Before you pay any fees, be clear about:

  • how much joining the waiting list costs – and whether the needs to be paid again after a set time-frame lapses
  • the average waiting time
  • whether part or all of the fee will be refunded when you do get offered a place, or if you change your mind, or if there is no place available to suit your time frame.

If the retirement village administration tells you the fee is refundable in certain circumstances, be sure to get the details in writing before handing over your money and always get a receipt.

Understanding ingoing contributions

Usually, an up-front payment is required when you enter a retirement village.  This may be referred to as an ingoing contribution, an interest-free loan, a refundable deposit, or the purchase price.

Understanding what this fee is, what it covers and what you are entitled to get refunded when you stop living at the retirement village is critical.

If you have any concerns about fees related to making your transition into retirement village living, seeking professional consumer affairs advice from a state/territory-based organisation is a smart move.

Moving into retirement village living can sometimes be one of the best moves you can make – especially if your own social networks have dropped away and you are keen to be surrounded by other like-minded people in a setting that feels safe and well-resourced. For other people, though, the rules, regulations and financial implications might make looking for other accommodation and lifestyle options more positive.

Have you recently moved to retirement village living? What is stopping you from considering a move to retirement village living?

Read more: State launches comparison website for retirement villages

Written by Claire Halliday

Claire is an accomplished journalist who has written for leading magazines and newspapers, such as The Sunday Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Women's Weekly, Marie Claire, Rolling Stone, Australian House & Garden, GQ, The Australian, Herald Sun, The Weekly Review, and The Independent on Sunday (UK).

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Bananas in a store

Six ways to make your bananas last longer

Does daily aspirin use come with any harmful effects?