There has been a recent growth in ‘’vertical” retirement accommodation. That is to say, apartment-style retirement facilities rather than the more prevalent, villa-style villages.
There are advantages in the new concept both from the point of view of retirement village operators and residents. We talked to Loraine Martin who is the sales manager for Serene Living to understand some of the benefits. Serene Living operates a village in Coolangatta/Tweed Heads. “One of the main benefits of vertical villages is that they have a smaller footprint. The space needed is far less than landed property, and so we can afford to be in excellent locations with facilities easily at hand.”
This certainly is true of Serene Living’s site, situated just opposite the Tweed Heads Bowls Club greens, offering very easy access to sporting facilities, a hospital, a major shopping centre, very easy access to the sea and everything that the town has to offer. The concept of great location is also borne out by other vertical retirement villages both in the Gold Coast and other cities – the upmarket Henley on Broadwater has spectacular views, is close to public transport, Australia Fair Shopping Centre, medical centres, hospitals and local beaches. A third property, Victoria Towers is smack in the middle of Southport and in Melbourne, Australian Unity has a building in Carlton, close to the Little Italy atmosphere of Lygon Street.
The locations are partly a recognition by the retirement village industry, that many of their future customers will want city living and may not want to change their environment from urban to suburban. They want to be where they may have lived for many years and where they are a part of the community and have their social and sometimes business and work networks.
It may be reasonable to think that the smaller space available in vertical villages compared to their more sprawling traditional counterparts, could impact facilities and lifestyle.
“In an environment like ours, it’s very important that lifestyle and wellness issues are addressed properly.” Well-thought-out designs can mean that retirees living in apartment-style villages do not miss out on the other amenities such as walking tracks, swimming pool and the like.
The Henley has a myriad of amenities such as a sky deck, bowling green and garden, gym, pool, spa, movie theatre, library, games and craft rooms. According to Loraine, “We have a 1200 square metre rooftop garden that residents use and they can also grow their own plants and flowers there and enjoy barbecues, so the gardens are enjoyed with a community feeling and it becomes a bit of a meeting point.”
Some companies are also dedicating some floors to aged care so that if one partner needs the higher care offered in aged care living, it is available just a few floors away and easily accessible by a 30-second ride in the lift.
Many baby boomers are used to city living and love it. They don’t want to have to go thirty or so kilometres away from the surroundings they are used to in order to live in the security and ambience of a retirement village. The vertical village can be a very welcome option.