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Moving into a Retirement Village:  What You Need to Know

Have the kids flown the nest? Does the family home feel too big? Do you want a relaxing retirement? Then it might be time for you to move.

Many people in this situation want a more manageable house they’re happy to lock and leave to be able to travel and spend time with friends and family. They’re also keen to live in a community of like-minded people where the atmosphere is social, they can enjoy activities, and can have peace of mind that help is on hand if they need it. If this sounds like the kind of lifestyle you’re after, then moving into a retirement village might be a great option for you.

What is a retirement village?

Retirement villages are broadly defined as a complex containing residential dwellings that are primarily or exclusively occupied by people who are over 55 years old and have retired from full time employment. Retirement communities are different from aged care facilities because they’re designed for able bodied seniors who are well enough to live alone and don’t need daily personal assistance.

Retirement villages offer different types of accommodation, from independent living units or self-care units as they’re often called, to assisted living units that offer higher levels of care or additional services such as: cleaning, meals, transport and medical support.

Entry into a retirement village is fully funded by the resident themselves, in most cases.

If the need for care increases, there are now "Home Care Packages" for residents to get added care services within the comfort of their own retirement living unit.

If high care is required, residential aged care might be the right option, and while some retirement villages have integrated aged care facilities, not all villages would have this option. It's worth noting that aged care support would be dependent on your care needs as determined by an Aged Care Assessment Team ("ACAT").

For more information on aged care transitions, you can read our article about aged care costs and how you can afford it.

How do you go about moving into a retirement village?

It’s important to shop around when selecting a retirement village to make sure it is accredited, located in a convenient spot, has the right kind of accommodation, suitable services and amenities, good transport links, allows overnight visits from friends and family, is pet friendly, or satisfies any other criteria that is important to your desired lifestyle.

Be sure to pick up several general inquiry documents from villages you’re interested in. This document explains the type of village and accommodation on offer, as well as the costs and facilities so you can compare the pros and cons of different villages and make the right choice for you.

Once you find a retirement village and unit you like within the complex, you can then ask the village manager for a disclosure statement for the property. This document contains detailed information about the financial arrangements required to enter the village, the legal title and occupancy rights of the property, and the on-going and departure fees associated with living in the village.

A disclosure statement is complex and can be quite confusing to those who don’t have specialised expertise in retirement village law. It’s worth noting that retirement villages are regulated by specific state and territory legislation. While these laws are based on similar principles, specific regulations still apply across Australia. We would therefore recommend that you seek independent legal and financial advice so you’re fully aware of the commitment and costs before signing a contract with a retirement village.

Compared to buying other residential property, the contracts offered by retirement villages can appear unusual and perplexing.

The forms of title used in granting residents the right to occupy can be any of the following:

  1. Strata title — like a traditional residence where the resident acquires title to the premises.
  2. Leasehold or licence — where a lease or licence is granted to the resident. In this situation, you usually must pay an upfront entry fee, often known as an ‘ingoing contribution’ for occupancy in the village.
  3. Company title — where a resident will acquire shares in a company which coupled with a lease arrangement, will give the resident the right to live in the premises.

The forms of title to secure tenure can vary from village to village, however, leasehold title is one of the most common forms offered by retirement villages. Essentially, a leasehold tenure allows you to purchase a guaranteed right to occupy your home for as long as you need. It’s important that you understand the rights and responsibilities that each form of title grants you and the village operator before you enter into an agreement with a retirement village.

What are the fees and costs associated with retirement villages?

Deposits and retirement village entry costs:

In most cases, you’ll need to pay a deposit when you sign a contract to secure your occupancy. It’s worth noting that this can be refunded if you change your mind within the ‘cooling off’ period — the time of which varies from state-to-state and operator.

The costs of entering and living in a retirement village vary depending on the type of property and services offered. If you’re securing tenure through strata, company or community title then you’ll generally pay a ‘purchase price’ for legal title of your property. You’ll also have to pay stamp duty on this form of title.

Leaseholds and licences generally require you to pay an ‘entry fee’ which is usually the current market value of the property. If the lease is ‘assignable’ — i.e. you can sell the balance term of the lease to a new resident when you leave the village — then you’ll have to pay stamp duty.

Maintenance and service fees:

From manicured gardens and 24-hour security to recreational facilities and on-call medical support, these conveniences are just some of the benefits of living in a retirement community. However, they cost money, and these are covered by maintenance and service fees which you’re required to pay either fortnightly or monthly.

Exit fees or deferred management fee:

This fee is unique to the retirement village sector and is used to compensate the village owner for the cost of building the village. This payment is often a percentage of the entry fee, or the sale price, and is agreed to in the contract upfront. The fee is paid to the operator when a resident leaves the village, and is usually deducted from the sale price. Fee structures differ depending on operator, and we recommend that you seek financial advice to ensure you choose one that suits your situation.

For more information on the retirement village costs and fees associated see http://www.retirementliving.org.au/village-life/retirement-villages

How Sellable can help free up capital in your home to fund moving into a retirement village

Whatever form of title you take up, you’ll need a significant lump sum to secure entry into your chosen retirement village.

If you want to move in quickly, Sellable can help. We can give you an upfront Guaranteed Price for your property — based on an independent valuation — so you can feel confident you’re getting a fair price and can fund the entry fee to your retirement village.

Once you accept our offer, we can give you access to your cash within seven days, so you can move into your chosen village. We’ll then take care of all the tasks associated with selling your house, including home improvements to optimise the final sale price.

And if it sells for more than the Guaranteed Price, you will receive 75 percent of any upside. All of this means less stress and more time for you to get on with enjoying your new retirement home and a more relaxed lifestyle.

If you’d like more information, or to talk about your situation, give one of the Sellable team a call on 1300 722 910, visit sellable.com.au/retirement or send us a message.