New website shines spotlight on retirement village fees

Greater transparency for retirement village contracts may be around the corner.

Website lifts lid on village fees

A Victorian lawyer hopes to encourage greater transparency in retirement village contracts and fees through a recently-launched comparison website.

Founder and Managing Director of, Jessica Kinnear, blames confusing documentation for creating some of the misunderstandings about the retirement village sector.

“The retirement living industry in Australia is currently going through a challenging time, with much of the negative public perception stemming from insufficient transparency, misconceptions and complexity, particularly around fees,” said Ms Kinnear.

“We recognised that the large number of older Australians who were considering moving into a retirement village didn’t know where to start the process or how to adequately compare retirement living accommodation.

“Essentially people had no way to easily compare what is a complex product and this has led to a lot of confusion and complaints about the industry.” details the different types of agreements available from operators, which can vary from state to state, as each jurisdiction has its own regulations for the sector.

Jessica Kinnear

Ms Kinnear told YourLifeChoices that the website is independent, but village operators do pay a fee when an enquiry is made on a listed property.

At the time of writing, there were just 118 village units listed – mostly in NSW and Queensland – but Ms Kinnear said that, in coming weeks, she expects hundreds more to be added.

Among the operators represented on the site are large operators such as Lendlease, Aveo and RetireAustralia, as well as small to medium-sized villages run by Lifestyle Communities, Regis, Japara, Greengate, and The Village Retirement Group.

According to, visitors to the free site will be able to:

  •  compare retirement living fees (from entry fees, ongoing fees and departure fees), as well as lifestyle features such as village facilities and access to services
  • enquire directly to the village operator for more information or to request a property inspection or village tour
  • calculate a departure entitlement, which gives users an estimate of what they could expect to receive when they leave a village.

Before launching the site, Ms Kinnear was an in-house lawyer at Lendlease. Prior to that she was employed by law firm Russell Kennedy to offer legal advice to retirement village operators and prospective purchasers of units, although not at the same time.

Would you be more inclined to buy into a retirement village if you could compare several of them? Have you had problems understanding village contracts?



    To make a comment, please register or login

    8th Feb 2018
    I still like the idea of being permanently booked on a cruise ship with lower costs and better food... as it stands I may well be residing on a boat in my eventual full retirement....
    8th Feb 2018
    I'm looking for one, like the 50' yacht I owned, that doesn't get rammed and sunk by the idiot who runs the marina, who then denied the whole thing. Quite a few people 'in the know' said differently.
    8th Feb 2018
    Only cheap ship you could afford likely to be a leaky wooden boat in Asia Trebor. Cruise ships are pretty expensive...and who wants to permanently be on a ship.
    8th Feb 2018
    Paying rent with a huge deposit and then on exit paying again for something u will never own is plundering retirees nest eggs for huge profits..why can't retirement villages offer owner status to retirees and exact a weekly toll for amenities..that way home ownership allows appreciation for the next phase of a retiree's life. THE CAMP LIFE OF A RETIREMENT VILLAGE MAKES FOR A TEMPORARY NIRVANA UNTIL THE TRUE COST IS REALISED
    8th Feb 2018

    8th Feb 2018
    They're for profit. Therefore you will be ripped off.
    8th Feb 2018
    I respect the comments that are posted. However unless you actually live in a retirement village there is a lot of misinformation that can influence a persons decision. I live in a retirement village and have been for nearly 10 years (best move we had ever made). My advice to people who ask my advice is, that it is a lifestyle that is not for everyone, with respect about valued appreciation of accommodation? Fact, you will not be around to worry about it and family should be grateful for any return as long as you had quality of life. And again there are village operators that are only after one thing, your money and that why you need to seek professional advice to be able to find an operator that you feel is right for you.
    8th Feb 2018
    As usual, Tasmania has been left off the map altogether. Pretty useless site so far, but maybe a beginning and something useful comes out in a few years
    8th Feb 2018
    Had a good laugh when I saw photo of the "retired"couple contemplating a retirement village at top of this article.
    Nobody in retirement villages look anything like them!
    8th Feb 2018
    I don't know the guy looks like Malcolm Turnbull.
    8th Feb 2018
    From what I've seen of retirement villages, I wouldn't touch them with a 10 foot pole.
    8th Feb 2018
    Do you get the feeling that everyone has got the message. Retirement villages are a ripoff.
    8th Feb 2018
    That's your opinion.
    My wife and I have lived in a Retirement Village for 14 years, and are perfectly happy. We could afford a three bedroom "independant living villa", five hundred meters from a pretty complete shopping village, and within 20 minutes drive from beaches from Caloundra to Coolum, Airport, hospitals .... ar a cost of several hundred thousand dollars less than a comparable house in the same suburb. - This sum has provided us with half a dozen cruises, several motoring holidays within Australia, from Townsville to Tasmania, while we could still manage them physically, and now provides us with a quality lifestyle, secure accomodation, with all maintenance provided, for management fees about half what friends pay for body corporate fees, rates etc in an apartment.
    So our kids will get only half its cost back eventually? They're quite happy with that - they haven't had to worry about us for all those years.
    8th Feb 2018
    Ok nev37 which retirement village are you with because a lot of people here are looking for a village that isn't a ripoff.
    8th Feb 2018
    Should look into 50 plus lifestyle villages. Buy your home and rent the land, full capital gain and pay a weekly fee for staff, use of complex and rates. Been in our place at Newcastle NSW, paid $388,000 in 2014 and now worth around $620,000 if we sell.
    8th Feb 2018
    Which retirement village are with because they have lost the trust of most people here. Or is 50 plus lifestyle village the company?
    8th Feb 2018
    There are a few around, I am at Palm Lake Resort Newcastle. You could search for Lifestyle Villages on the internet. I do not believe there are any in Sydney of this kind.
    8th Feb 2018
    I suspect those last couple of comments are by retirement village owners that are running out of pigeons. Everyone is on to them now.
    8th Feb 2018
    Whatever they are read your contracts very carefully.
    8th Feb 2018
    Check out lifestyle villages on the internet this is genuine i live at palm lake resort newcastle an do not pay exit fees, receive full capital gains when we sell, thats why we moved here..
    Grey Voter
    8th Feb 2018
    We took the plunge eight months ago and have so far been very happy with the way it turned out. We sold our house at Hoppers Crossing and bought a top-of-the-line cottage at Ingenia Lifestyle, Lara (limits of Geelong). It came complete with all accessories (dish washer, LED downlights, ceiling fans throughout, complete kitchen, two bedrooms, study, bathroom,good size laundry, two toilets a spacious back verandah, garage, a small backyard and lots of storage space. It cost us less than $300,000 and the lease of the land is for 99 years. If we move out for any reason, we pay no exit fees and we keep any capital gains we manage to achieve. The clubrooms and facilities are similar to a five star resort. I cannot recommend this village highly enough and I encourage those interested to pay a visit. Call for appointment on 52826859.
    8th Feb 2018
    But wait there's more.....
    8th Feb 2018
    How much does Ms Kinnear charge to advertise on her site? Now that would be transparency!

    Had a quick look at the site - yes it does gather together some information in a single place - my village not being there I checked on Meadowvale, a nearby one that was. The monthly service/maintenance fee is obviously wrong for a village unit (more than 4 times what I pay for a comparable unit at another village in the same town) and there is no indication as to what is included anyway. So the site is slightly helpful but visiting a village (specially on open days and talking to residents) is always the best way.

    There are many models for retirement villages. Some villages (in Victoria anyway) do offer owner status to retirees and exact a weekly toll for amenities.

    In all the public comment on retirement village contracts I have not seen a single example of an improper clause in a contract. Many don't like the terms of a contract but that is a completely different thing. If you don't like a contract don't sign it - simples. Any prospective buyer will be given a copy of a contract and before they sign it they can show it to anyone - indeed many villages recommend that a solicitor is consulted. Of course you have to read the contract yourself as a solicitor will only point out deficiencies in the contract - you will be expected to read the terms yourself. I cannot see how this can be made 'more transparent'. If you chose to sign a contract without reading it, or you sign it and don't agree with its provisions whose fault is that?

    When looking purely at the financial aspect of a retirement village things that you have to weigh up should include the purchase price, the monthly fee and the value of benefits received and if you are actually going to use the benefits (swimming pool, gym, bowling green etc), additional charges like rates, the cost associated with your current residence that will no longer apply, the permitted annual rise in the monthly fees and the exit fee. There may be other benefits/downsides such as proximity to medical facilities, location of family, what happens when you can no longer drive etc.

    For those who do not like exit fees - when you finally leave you will find the fees are 100% at the Pearly Gates - you can't take it with you!
    9th Feb 2018
    Retirement village? No thanks. Couped up with old people just isn’t me. I prefer a mixed community.
    11th Feb 2018
    I feel the same way. Old people always have health issues that they want to share. No young, vibrant people around to help you see things differently and enjoy life more.
    Grey Voter
    11th Feb 2018
    Our management team is young and vibrant and I am always helping them in one way or another. Most of the residents have children and grandchildren who visit regularly and many of them become our friends too. I also volunteer at the local school and church and I meet all kinds of interesting people there. Life is what YOU make of it.
    21st May 2018
    I live in the NLV Tuart Lakes WA. It is quiet and the people are pleasant and sociable. There is a huge heated pool, bowls, pets allowed, sundowners on Friday nights and a social club who do a great program with all sort of great activities. The residents are young at heart and pets are allowed. I love it here.

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles