Why Choose A Retirement Village

Posted on March 04, 2019.

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A major life decision in retirement is do we leave the family home and consider options like living in a retirement village?

Retirement villages bring many benefits and with the many choices on offer there’s a lifestyle option for you right here in Perth and beyond. Here we chat to retirees Bill and Anne about their retirement move.

Community spirit – living near like-minded people

Perth retirees Bill and Anne have joined a retirement village south of Perth and they have not looked back. One big reason they chose a retirement village lifestyle is the companionship and community spirit that comes with village living.

Anne said she enjoys company and loves living in a retirement village because neighbours are nearby.

“Just where we live, I walk out the front door and people will be passing and say hello and stop and have a little chat and that is part of what I enjoy,” she said.

Bill says it is easy to get involved with other people and events like neighbourhood barbecues and get-togethers that are fun and popular.

Access to services

One major attraction for retirees is the convenience of nearby or co-located services.

Many retirement villages offer access to shopping, transport, lifestyle and fitness amenities and many communities can be co-located with residential aged care. Be sure to read the fine print because living in a retirement village does not mean automatic admission into aged care.

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“We wanted to make our final years happy,” Anne said.

“Having had experience with my parents who had to shift, we didn’t want that to happen so that is why we decided on a retirement village, and we did look at a lot of retirement villages!”

“I’d say that as a major decision, it’s probably the best decision we have ever made,” Bill said.

What kind of retirement villages are available

Depending on your preferences and needs there are many different styles of retirement living.

Generally, to join a retirement village you need to be aged 55 years and over and meet the providers requirements, such as being able to live safely and independently. You can be fully retired, volunteering or doing some paid work.

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You might enjoy entertaining and nightlife but keeping a large garden is not your thing. But you love plants, so a balcony apartment close to retail and cafes like Orana by Juniper might be top of the list.

Or a cost effective choice may be a villa or bungalow where your low key life begins with maintenance and gardening chores answered by the village operator.

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There are many types of housing, tenure and ownership options available in Australia and many laws governing each. Here is a selection of the most common types you might encounter.

Retirement villages

These communities offer housing to over 55s, including people who are single or are married or have a partner. Usually in a mix of units, villas or serviced apartments, these villages are known by many names such as “lifestyle villages”, “gardens”, “lifestyle estates” and “retirement living”. Both commercial and not-for-profit retirement village operators offer ownership or rental accommodation options in retirement villages.

Lifestyle Villages

These differ from retirement villages usually through a lower entry age of 45 years and occupancy granted though a lease arrangement with the owner. According to Consumer Protection, residents can buy or rent premises, but the land is always leased.

Authorities advise prospective residents to check the fine print and ask questions because some places may use “lifestyle” in their name and are not villages protected under the Retirement Villages Act. Residential Parks and long-stay tenancies operate under different law and may not give residents the same security of tenure as a retirement village.

Buying and renting in retirement villages

Strata title ownership is a direct purchase similar to a standard strata-title arrangement where the property is divided into units and you buy-in through an agreed purchase price. Retirement strata schemes also differ from standard arrangements by being restricted to retirees and their partners, and you may need to meet certain eligibility criteria and agreements prior to moving in.

Leasing arrangements are very common and can be confusing at first glance. Depending the contract between the village operator and the resident, the agreement is referred to as a ‘lease for life’ or ‘licence to occupy’ and gives the resident long-term rights to occupy the premises. Lease payment can involve an initial entry price, generally a once-off up-front payment known as a ‘premium’ or ‘entry contribution’.

This payment varies depending on your agreement, and it can be part-refundable, a nominal amount or the equivalent of the cost of buying the accommodation.

In addition, residents may be required to pay for some or all of the costs associated with operating the retirement village, such as administration, maintenance, village services and amenities. These recurring charges are an additional, ongoing regular fee also known as fortnightly fees, operating fees or operating rent. Some villages also charge additional levies, body corporate and exit/departure fees, all worth investigating before your enter into an agreement.

Renting

Renting a villa, unit or apartment can be an attractive option for those with limited means. Under a rental agreement, tenants are contracted to tenancy conditions and pay rent for a fixed or periodic term.

Rights and responsibilities

As a resident of a retirement village, the Retirement Villages Act provides certain rights including information on how the village is operated, representation on residents’ committees and security of your tenure. Commerce WA says most villages have their own rules and while they are not law, the residential contract may require you to abide by them.

Next steps

Seniors housing provider Juniper offers many housing options and a variety of locations and our friendly team can help you find the retirement lifestyle of your choice. Contact the friendly Juniper team on 9240 0313 or email us at housing@juniper.org.au for more information.