We decided to move into our current home in a Lifestyle Village (a retirement village for people 55 and over) about three and a half years ago. We didn’t look at other Villages and didn’t do much research on the options available.
If you are considering moving into a Lifestyle Village there are a lot of things to think about. Acquiring a Lifetime Lease for our property cost about the same as purchasing a similar house in the wider community. There was a saving in that Retirement Villages are not required to pay Stamp Duty. Retirement Villages are covered in legislation through the Retirement Village Act (currently being amended).
However, there are ongoing costs on a monthly basis, similar to Strata Fees. These fees cover the operational cost of the Village. Currently there are approximately 180 homes in our gated community. Only the occupied homes contribute to the fees that pay for the overall operation of the Village.
The owners of the Village have a Board and a Chief Executive Officer. They employ a Manager to run the place on a day-to-day basis. There is also a Residents Association, elected annually by the residents, to represent the interests of the residents. The Village also employs a contract gardener and a part-time maintenance person.
Facilities include a gymnasium, bowling green, swimming pool, spa and sauna. There is a Social Club who organise a variety of activities plus there are exercise classes, table-tennis, a Bridge club, singing, arts and crafts and so forth.
As with any small community, there can be differences of opinion and sometimes conflict. From my point of view, it is difficult to reconcile the needs of the owners (to make money), the management (keeping things in order) and the residents association (seeking to address the diverse interests of the residents) and the residents themselves. In a perfect world they would all work together for the greater good – but this isn’t always the case, unfortunately!
The benefits include knowing your neighbours (very unlikely to get a bikie club setting up next door, is there Ted & Rae?) and the sense of keeping an eye out for each other – an informal Neighbourhood Watch. It gives one a sense of security. We are fortunate to have great neighbours who I consider to be good friends.
If you are thinking of moving into a Village like ours, do as much research as you can, especially about ongoing fees and the likely financial impact if you decide it is not for you. It is hard to buy and sell in the broader real estate market but one needs to be even more prudent with retirement villages. I am sure the houses will increase in value over many years (great location) but they are not a good option for a short to mid-term investment.
The other thing to consider is the impact of living within a narrow demographic of the broader community, especially if one is younger and/or still in the workforce. Obviously we all get older so this can be a temporary issue :-). In a few years I may be complaining about those ‘youngsters’!