The latest retirement census from the Property Council of Australia and PwC has revealed that nationwide, retirement villages are 93 per cent occupied.
Villages in NSW, the ACT, Victoria and Tasmania have the least room, at 94 per cent occupied while villages in South Australia have the most beds to spare, with 89 per cent occupied.
According to the executive director of retirement living at the Property Council of Australia, state governments need to step up to promote the urgent development of retirement villages in “all our major cities”.
Ben Myers said: “Nearly 200,000 senior Australians have made the informed choice to choose retirement village living, and this number is set to grow sharply in the coming decade.”
Noting that retirement villages can allow people to enjoy independent living within a secure environment, he warned that without “significant improvements”, many seniors won’t be able to access those benefits.
As such, he argued that Australia’s over 65s and the retirement living industry are “facing an imminent capacity crisis”.
“Many existing homes just aren’t suitable for our seniors to ‘age in place’; often they are older, contain trip hazards and very difficult to maintain.
“There must be more housing options for senior Australians, especially in our biggest cities where demand is at its highest, so people can live independently for longer.”
He said that while entry into retirement villages “remains affordable” a lack of supply could push prices up.
PwC real estate advisory partner Tony Massaro added that as Australia’s population continues to age and pursue longer working lives, “our cities are going to need to work for senior Australians in ways they never have before”.
The census also found that the average monthly service fee for a single resident is $453 and that the average independent living unit (ILU) costs less than 70 per cent of the average house price in the same postcode.
“Beyond affordability, retirement living accommodation is also increasingly connected to health and lifestyle services for senior residents,” Mr Massaro continued.
“More than three-quarters of villages surveyed host visiting health professionals, while 28 per cent have aged care within 500 metres of the village, up from 26 per cent last year, and 33 per cent of villages are operated by an approved provider for home care.”
However, retirement living and the payment arrangements that accompany it have also come under fire in recent months. According to the senior policy officer at the Consumer Action Law Centre, retirement village contracts can be so complex that residents and their families should seek legal advice before signing them.
Katherine Temple told Nest Egg: “Australia has an ageing population and there is a push for people to downsize so we anticipate that more and more older Australians are going to be moving into retirement villages and other types of retirement housing.
“It's really important that we have strong protections in place to make sure that older people are treated fairly when they move into these places.”