Frequently Asked Questions
What is a retirement village?
We want to clarify that retirement living is NOT aged care. Importantly, retirement living is not government funded, unlike aged care, and the decision to move into a retirement village is due to lifestyle factors rather than needing care. In most retirement villages, you must be capable of living independently, although you may (if eligible*) be able to access in-home aged care services that allow you to, for all practical purposes, continue to live independently in the village, in the same way as you may be able to access these services if you stayed in your own home.
*The owner/operator cannot guarantee your access to aged care. Eligibility is subject to an aged care assessment in accordance with the Aged Care Act 1997.
Moving into a retirement community may delay the need for aged care. A pilot study found that village residents were 2 years older before they received in-home aged care services. They were an extra 4 to 5 years older before they went into an aged care facility. Why? Primarily it’s the social contact, feeling of community and activities.(2)
“Other independent research by Grant Thornton finds that village residents live independently for five years longer than the national average, delaying their entry into the residential aged care system due to the supported environment they live within”, said Ben Myers, Executive Director – Retirement Living at the Property Council of Australia.(3)
According to the Grant Thornton report, living in a retirement village reduces the number of hospital admissions and improves the social wellbeing of residents. As retirement villages are purpose built, age appropriate designs such as ramps and railings help reduce accidents. The common problems of social isolation and depression are counteracted by the community support offered by the other village residents.(4)
With social isolation estimated to affect 1 in 5 older Australians(5), it’s these opportunities for social interaction that sees 46% of residents report improved mental wellbeing since moving into a retirement village and 93% of residents state that their ‘overall happiness and life satisfaction’ had increased significantly or stayed neutral since moving into the village(6).
(1) Rod Ellis-Jones, Ellis Jones: Retirement Living has a Great Future, 2017.
(2) IRT: An Investigation of the IRT Retirement Community Landscape: A Pilot Study, 2014.
(3) The Property Council of Australia: The Facts on Retirement Living, 2017.
(4) Grant Thornton: Property Council of Australia: National Overview of the Retirement Village Sector, 2014.
(5) The University of Adelaide: The Impact of Social Isolation on Older Australians, 2011.
(6) The McCrindle Baynes Villages Census Report, 2013-2014.
What are the different contract types?
Independent Living Unit/Villa
This is the most common type of retirement living. Residents must be capable of living independently. It’s not very different from staying in your own home, except that you are living in a community for retirees or over 55s. No personal services are provided, as they are in a serviced apartment, although they may be available as optional services on a user-pays basis.
Retirement living accommodation, where personal services are provided to assist you with daily living, such as cleaning, laundry and meals. You may be able to access these services as optional services at other types of retirement living accommodation. This type of accommodation is also known as Assisted Living and is generally smaller in size than other accommodation types.
Serviced Apartment living is not to be confused with residential aged care where care services are provided.
Rather than the traditional financial model of paying an entry price (and a deferred payment commonly being charged upon departure), a rental model may be available as an alternative within a traditional retirement village, or the entire community may be a rental model, where you pay an ongoing rental for your right to occupy your unit.
In a rental village (as opposed to a rental unit/s within an otherwise traditional retirement village where at least one resident has paid an entry price), you would sign a residential tenancy agreement and won’t be governed by retirement villages legislation. They’re not legally restricted to retirees or over 55s, however they may be designed and marketed towards this consumer group.
On the other hand, for a rental unit within a traditional retirement village where at least one resident has paid an entry price, you may sign a lease agreement governed by retirement villages legislation.
Land Lease Community
A community in which you lease the land/site from the community owner, but own the building it sits on or lease the building from the building owner.
The entry price is the price for the house, and departure fees may apply if you sell the house to a new owner.
Land lease communities are also referred to as manufactured home parks. They may also be known as residential parks or lifestyle communities. They operate under different legislation than retirement villages legislation. They’re not legally restricted to retirees or over 55s, however they may be designed and marketed towards this consumer group.
How much are entry fees, ongoing charges and exit fees?
The typical retirement village financial model is to pay an upfront lump sum payment/purchase price for your right to reside in the village, ongoing fees for services provided by the operator while you live there, and exit fees including a deferred management fee (DMF) deducted when you leave. You may or may not be entitled to capital gain if your retirement village property sells for more than what you paid.
Several operators are now providing choice to consumers, so there are other financial models on offer, including an upfront management fee (UMF) contract, a refundable contract (where you get back what you pay) and a 'rental' or pay as you go contract.
The DMF is the main source of income for operators and in order for a retirement village business to be viable it must cover such things as corporate overheads, non-recoverable sales and marketing costs, long-term maintenance and capital improvements. The village operations generally work on a cost recovery basis, so ongoing service/maintenance fees payable by residents reflect the costs incurred. If a DMF is not charged, the income will come from the UMF, refundable contribution or rental payment (as appropriate).
How do I compare retirement villages?
Our experienced Village Advisors can help you compare retirement villages including different contract options. You may also compare villages by asking for the village Factsheet (applicable to Victorian retirement villages) which must be provided to you within 7 days of a request and includes information about the village including contract types and fees. The Factsheet is a standard form document which you can compare against other Factsheets, or we can assist you with this, as the document is long and you may find it complex.