Retirement villages

A retirement village is a community specially built to cater towards the needs and lifestyles of older people. Many retirement villages offer units, villas, apartments, or serviced apartments. This gives you the option to choose to live independently within the village environment or to get extra help with cleaning or meal delivery. A retirement village may offer community facilities such as recreation areas, communal libraries, gyms, games rooms, dining rooms, and meal services. You should visit prospective retirement villages multiple times before deciding to move, and you can take your time to talk to other residents in the village to understand the environment you may be moving into.
 
Choosing to move into a retirement village is optional and no one can make you move. For some people, the lifestyle of a retirement village may not meet their needs. It is important to choose a retirement village that reflects your personal preferences and lifestyle choices. Deciding to move into a retirement village should be considered in the same way you would consider moving to a new house or city.

Benefits of retirement villages

For some, retirement villages offer a social environment that may be difficult to participate in without living in a village. Being in a village with like-minded people and with recreational facilities you can enjoy may suit you well. Having the privacy and independence of a self-contained apartment or villa within a village can give you the freedom of living in your own home while also being in a supportive environment. Many retirement communities have 24-hour ‘on call’ assistance available through a call system or by telephone if needed and in an emergency, which may offer peace of mind.
 
Villages often outline in their agreements that all maintenance and repair on properties within the village will be done or organised by the village, which can give you peace of mind about future property issues. If you have a garden, this may also be maintained by the village depending on your agreement. A village may also give you peace of mind about security, with many villages being fenced and requiring key or card access after-hours and other extra security measures in place. You can check with the retirement village you intend to live at to find out what is included in your agreement and what security measures are in place.

Getting advice before moving in

Choosing to move into a retirement village is a big decision that should be carefully considered. You should include a lawyer when reading through legal documentation and the Occupation Right Agreement (ORA) to make sure you understand what you are signing and what is covered in your agreement.
 
When viewing prospective retirement villages, you should meet the Village Manager and ask questions about maintenance and general village life. Questions can include asking about garden maintenance, cleaning the exterior of your building, emergency and smoke alarms, and pathways into higher care facilities. You should ask as many questions as you need to fully understand what you can expect from the retirement village.
 
Along with paying ongoing weekly or monthly fees to the retirement village, there will be a cost of entry and exit costs involved. Make sure that you understand all the costs involved at the retirement village and talk to a lawyer or financial advisor to get a professional opinion before signing.

Rights, regulations, and organisations

All retirement villages must meet the Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008. This code outlines the minimum standards for:

  • Staffing of the village
  • Safety and security of residents
  • Fire protection and emergency management
  • Insurance
  • Transferring residents within a village
  • Meetings, including AGMs
  • Complaints and processes
  • Accounts
  • Maintenance and upgrading
  • Operator or resident termination of agreements
  • Communications

You can read the Code of Practice here, or you can find more information at the Commission for Financial Capability. The Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) monitors all retirement villages to ensure they are meeting standards.
 
The Retirement Villages Association (RVA) have an accreditation system that approves villages that meet specific standards. These standards are higher than those outlined in the Code of Practice. Villages who are accredited or provisional members undergo independent audits every three years to certify they meet RVA standards. You can find a list of accredited villages on the RVA website.

Websites of interest

Find your nearest Age Concern