This is an important decision to make because the type of property you live in may affect your finances in retirement – especially if you need to pay out of pocket for aged care.
Some of the typical living options for retired Australians are:
- Staying in the family home
- Retirement villages
- Co-located villages
- Home care villages
- Land lease communities
Nest Egg discusses what the options above provide and why you may wish to consider them.
Staying in the family home
Some seniors and empty nesters prefer to stay in their home for various reasons such as the home’s sentimental value and being able to pass it onto their children as part of their inheritance.
Staying in your family home in retirement is a viable option if you can regularly meet the costs of owning and managing the property and you mostly don’t need assistance in your day-to-day living.
A benefit of staying in your family home in retirement – other than having full control of the household – is that you can access your equity in your home should you find yourself in financial trouble. This may be done though a reverse mortgage or home equity release scheme.
You may also choose to sell your home to downsize or rent it out for additional income in retirement.
Retirement villages refer to communities that cater to independent seniors and retirees. These communities typically have enticing amenities that residents can freely use, as well as community activities they can participate in.
It’s important to note that while some retirement villages have options for assisted living, its residents are really those who prefer to live independently while sharing recreational and other amenities with other senior-aged individuals and couples.
Living in a retirement village may be a viable option for you if your health and lifestyle can enable you to maximise the free community amenities as these would have been out-of-pocket expenses if you live or rent a home.
However, it’s highly recommended to seek the advice of a legal representative who can understand the ins and outs of retirement village contracts before signing up for one.
Retirement villages have complex fee structures that can make terminating the contract financially crippling for the retiree. Even if you successfully terminate the contract, your money is tied to the property you occupied (i.e. you must still pay for utility and other fees) until it is sold.
Co-located villages refer to retirement villages that have an affiliated aged care facility attached or within the area. This type of retirement living property, however, are uncommon.
This option may be most appropriate for retired couples who have to be separated due to one partner requiring professional aged care assistance.
These facilities still operate separately, with retirement villages operating under state rules while aged care facilities are under federal legislation. If you are considering moving to a retirement community with a co-located aged care home, it’s important to remember that you don’t have a guaranteed slot in the aged care facility. You will have to submit separate applications to be admitted to both facilities.
Home care villages
Home care villages or assisted living facilities are retirement accommodations that provide varying levels of care to its residents who may live in separate property units or in a studio unit within the facility.
The idea is that the home care village residents don’t need to make special arrangements to move to a dedicated aged care facility when they require more support – the support they require will be brought to their home or unit. Potential residents of assisted living facilities are usually required to undergo an aged care assessment before they can be accommodated.
You may opt for an assisted living community if you have medical conditions that require special care as you age.
Land lease communities
Another popular retirement living option are land lease communities (LLCs), which are also known as resort communities. LLCs are similar to caravan parks wherein the resident owns their home but rents the land it stands on.
Houses in LLCs are typically manufactured in factories, and this makes them cheaper compared to brick and mortar homes. Centrelink pensioners may also receive subsidy for the cost of renting the land, and this can further lower their retirement expense.
However, there are some things you need to be aware of if you’re interested in living in a land leased community.
- Not all LLCs have aged care support because they are not required by law to be age-friendly
- Only a few have an adjacent aged care facility – but you are free to avail of home care services subject to a government aged care assessment
- Fees can vary as the LLC operator sees fit – there is minimal government control on fees
- Contracts can vary – the operator has control on what they want to stipulate
- Moving out within the contract term may be expensive – some LLC operators charge a departure fee
If you wish to spend your retirement years in a land leased community, it’s best to seek the advice of a legal professional before signing any document for the lease.
Likewise, you may wish to evaluate your medical history and potential health risks before deciding on a living arrangement so that your choice will be appropriate to your circumstances.
This information has been sourced from ASIC’s Moneysmart and the Queensland government website.