Buying

Buying into retirement villages

Time is one of those inescapable things that just won’t slow down. And with it, hand in hand, comes age. Living alone can often become more difficult as we grow old, and it is at this point in life that people often begin to consider the idea of entering a retirement village. Deciding to make this move is not only a lifestyle choice, but a significant financial one, as these residential facilities do not come cheaply.

It is important to fully understand what you are getting yourself – or your elderly loved one – into before making the commitment. We’ve unpacked the basics. Here are our top ten questions to ask before making the commitment to a retirement village:

1. Does the facility age as you do?

It’s important to think about not only now but the future when investing in a retirement home. Check for basic things like hand rails and ramps, but also consider accommodation for wheelchairs and walking frames that may be needed somewhere down the track.

2. What local amenities can you easily access?

If your retirement village does not have its own health care service, a worthwhile consideration is local amenities including doctors, dentists, opticians and hospitals to ensure that regular check-ups are close by.

3. What recreational facilities are nearby?

The retirement village may be equipped with everything you need to stay entertained, but sometimes it’s nice to head out for excursions or day trips. Check out the proximity of shopping centres, libraries, churches and public transport.

4. Is it ready to live in or do changes need to be made?

Consider if the property is right for you now, or if updates need to be made. Renovations can take time, and if you have sold your current property already, time may not be plentiful. They can also be costly, and sometimes body corporates do not allow extensive changes to the existing property.

5. What is the policy on visitors?

Though there may be other residents to keep you company, you can’t forget your friends! Research the visitor policy to fully understand what the situation will be when you have guests. Can they stay for a visit or prolonged amounts of time? Is there adequate onsite parking? Is there a restriction on how many guests you can have at any one time? Find these things out now before you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation down the track!

6. Are pets allowed?

Furry friends count too! If you have a cat or dog – or even a rabbit or bird! – you may want to bring them along with you into your new home. Some retirement villages have strict policies on pets so make sure you select one that is pet friendly.

7. What security systems are in place?

You need to feel safe in your home. Take note of the security measures in place by the retirement village to help you decide if the level is right for you. Look for security cameras, monitored receptions and outdoor lighting, as a start.

8. What kind of contract will you be signing?

There are a few different types of contracts available when purchasing retirement village property. Consider which is right for you and your circumstances:

  • Strata Title. This option enables you to own the unit by paying an agreed amount to a previous resident or the facility operator. This is usually in conjunction with a service agreement with the operator.
  • Loan and Licence. A contribution is paid in the form of an interest-free loan. This usually applies to not-for-profit organisations, such as churches.
  • Leasehold. A lump sum is paid and you are then protected if the village is sold. The lease is registered on the title deed.

9. Is there opportunity for future care?

Some retirement villages have nursing homes on site that residents can be transferred to when the need arises. However, it’s important to note that a position in a nursing home is not a guarantee, even if you do live in the retirement village. Nursing homes are regulated by the Federal government and their allocation is determined based on need.

10. Are there any exit fees to consider should you wish to move on?

Exit fees terms and conditions can be hidden in the fine print so look for them. They can be extensive and complicated, and may include one of lump sums or annual charges. Ensure that you fully understand the ramifications of an early exit and what it will mean for your bank account before you sign any contracts.