If you’re approaching retirement and looking for suitable housing, you’ll find there are lots of choices.
So where do you start? First, it’s important to understand that all retirement living options are not the same. There are different types and styles of accommodation, with each designed to meet the needs of retirees at different stages of life.
There are three main over-55s living styles to choose from: lifestyle communities, retirement villages, and residential aged care facilities. And while from the outside they may all look the same, there are some important differences. Here’s a brief guide to your retirement living options, to help you find the right choice.
Designed for over 55s who want to be part of an inclusive and supportive community, lifestyle villages are a great choice for active and independent retirees. A big drawcard for those who are downsizing the family home is that many offer houses situated on their own fenced block. This allows for plenty of space and privacy, something which can be lacking in the other options.
Situated on landscaped grounds, lifestyle communities offer communal facilities such as recreation rooms, gymnasiums, swimming pools, gardens and indoor and outdoor dining spaces. There are also optional social outings, events and interest groups, plus other benefits including easy access to community and health facilities and increased security. Lifestyle village contracts (depending on the operator) generally do not include deferred management or exit fees, which gives you greater flexibility if your needs change and you need to move.
Confused about contracts and other village questions? Download our free guide, 20 Questions You Must Ask BEFORE You Choose a Village…
Also designed for independent older Australians, retirement villages share some similarities with lifestyle communities, but also some significant differences. The accommodation style is generally more geared towards apartments and units, which can mean a higher density of residents and less private space. Like lifestyle communities, shared facilities can include recreation rooms and leisure spaces like pools, gyms and landscaped gardens. Many retirement villages also offer organised activities and extra services like cleaning and meals (for an additional cost). They may also be located on the same site as aged care facilities, although the two are managed separately.
…in a lifestyle village, your legal rights, contractual obligations and the fees you pay will be vastly different from those of a retirement village…
There has been much publicity of late regarding the complex contracts of retirement villages, mostly due to the inclusion of deferred management or exit fees that are payable if you decide to sell your home. Because each operator has their own contract and fee structure, it’s essential that you do your research and seek expert legal advice before making any decisions.
Residential Aged Care Facilities
Aged care facilities are quite different to lifestyle communities and retirement villages as they are for older people who need support with day to day tasks and cannot live alone. Services for residents include assistance with personal care, meals, medication, laundry, cleaning and medical staff onsite.
Places in a residential aged care facility are based on need, and to move in, you must be assessed by a government-appointed Aged Care Assessment Team and judged as needing daily care. Unlike retirement villages and lifestyle communities which are fully self-funded, the fees in aged care facilities are heavily subsidised and regulated.
Your best choice for retirement living will be based on your individual needs and the type of lifestyle you want to lead. Other considerations include the type of housing, location, contractual implications and your financial position.
It’s important to remember that as you age, your needs will change – and while a lifestyle community or retirement village might be ideal now, it may not be in 10 or 20 years’ time. So, be sure to think long-term – and make sure that whatever you choose now, it allows you flexibility so you can meet your changing needs in the years to come.
Over to You
Are you confused about the differences between lifestyle communities, retirement villages and residential aged care? You’re not alone! We’d love to hear your questions and comments.
Want to know more about deferred management fees and other traps related to lifestyle villages? Download our FREE guide, 20 Questions You Must Ask BEFORE Choosing a Village.