Thinking about including retirement villages in your retirement plan?

The decision to move to a retirement village can be a difficult one.  It may mean leaving the family home full of happy memories or it may bring on concerns about loss of independence or self-sufficiency.  You may think that retirement villages are just for old people and you’re not old.  But including such a move in your life plan can be a wise decision.

A retirement village is not a nursing home and it is not just for old people.  In Queensland there is not set age to enter a retirement village as individual villages can set their own age restrictions but the usual age is from 55 years old or when the person has retired from full-time employment.  In the case of a spouse or de facto partner, if they both want to move in together generally only one of them has to meet the requirements.

Retirement villages (sometimes called resorts or estates) offer small apartments, usually one or two bedrooms within a secure gated community often with many on-site amenities.

The advantages over just buying a unit generally are the security and facilities.  Retirement villages generally have security services and CCTV cameras to protect the residents.  They also often have additional amenities such as pools, bowling greens, billiards rooms and even libraries, hairdressers and beauty salons.  Luxury retirement villages are now popping up with wine cellars, movie theatres, restaurants, golf courses and chauffeured limousines.  This can make things much easier for someone that doesn’t drive or doesn’t want to maintain a car now their income has reduced in retirement.

Further, the law gives residents of retirement villages extra protections, including a 14 day ‘cooling off’ period, within which they can decide to back out.  In many ways, living in a retirement village is a little like living in a community title unit.  There is a residents committee, by-laws and common facilities.

And don’t worry relatives visiting and staying are usually welcome and many also allow you to keep your pets.

To buy into a retirement village is not quite the same as purchasing a property the usual way.  How you enter a contract to live in a retirement village varies depending on the set up of the retirement village (you can be given a lease on the unit, buy the unit or buy shares in the retirement village which gives you the right to occupy the unit).  Therefore, it is very important to get advice on the agreement.  Some also have service agreements to sign which give you rights in relation to the amenities at the retirement village.  There are also different exit fees and other levies for maintenance, etc. which can be confusing.

So if you are thinking about a retirement village as an option or if you are planning on moving into one, it pays to get advice up front so you know what you are buying into and what your rights and responsibilities are as a resident.  It will give you peace of mind, help you choose the right retirement village for you and make the transition that much smoother.

By Kathryn Millist-Spendlove

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