We are currently in uncertain times, and, having lived through lockdown during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are re-assessing their lifestyle and living options. Some are considering a move to a retirement village, but this is a decision that needs careful thought and planning.
As President of the Association of Residents of QLD Retirement Villages (ARQRV), I have first-hand knowledge of what it means to live in a retirement village and of the issues that need to be considered carefully before making such a move. Let me say at the outset that I love living in my village and really would not want to live anywhere else, but there are lots of things that you need to know to help you make that decision.
Briefly, there are two quite distinct models of retirement living, legislated under different Acts of Parliament and with different financial structures. There are retirement villages (legislated under the QLD Retirement Village Act), and over 50s Resorts, sometimes known as a land lease community, which are legislated under the Manufactured Homes and Residential Parks Act. You will need to check out the differences.
A retirement village is usually leasehold, although there are other models. Basically, you have a registered lease on the land and a contract that gives you the right to reside in the village. An incoming contribution is paid to the operator, and an exit fee payable when you leave the village is taken from your purchase price with the balance returned to you. However, there are often different financial contracts within a village, and contracts differ from village to village. The salesperson will explain them to you in detail. It is also important that you understand that you are not buying a financial investment property, but rather purchasing a lifestyle. This lifestyle is what makes a retirement village an attractive proposition.
Most villages have a range of facilities available, including a large clubhouse often with a library, snooker tables, and craft area, a swimming pool, often lawn bowls, and usually a workshop. There is sometimes room for caravan storage, and the village may or may not be pet friendly. Again, villages differ and the price includes the facilities so expect to pay more depending on how many facilities there are.
The social life is another plus. This is particularly true if you are a single person, as there is always the opportunity to join in with all the activities in the village – coffee mornings or happy hour ensure that there is always someone to talk to. Make sure you ask what activities are offered and how much residents participate in running social activities and events in the village. Ask to see a calendar of what is available and check out what you may have to pay for a class, e.g. aqua aerobics, and what is provided as part of your weekly fees.
If you choose village living, a word of caution, you will be moving into a community. If you are someone who is not very sociable and would prefer not to get involved in social activities, consider if village life is the best option for you.
Before you sign the contract, have it checked by a solicitor and talk to your financial planner on the financial implications in the longer term. Then get ready to enjoy all that retirement village life has to offer.
Judy Mayfield, President ARQRV