There are several types of retirement homes available under different purchase and fee paying arrangements. Before making a choice, consider the type of accommodation and facilities you’ll need now and later, the costs and contract requirements.
Accommodation is available in self-contained villas, semi-detached units or high-rise apartments. Options include:
- buying a home in a village where a manager has a contract to operate the centre, or
- paying fees to live in a centre owned and run by a private business or not-for profit organisation.
When choosing a retirement home, consider the facilities and services you may need, such as communal dining and recreation, emergency, medical and security services, maintenance, gardening, in-home support or aged-care accommodation. Be aware of any eligibility restrictions, such as those relating to working residents, spouses, visitors, pets and parking.
Most retirement villages require some form of ongoing fees on top of your initial purchase or fee payment, sometimes including one-off or ongoing fees even after you have left.
Buying retirement accommodation is often different from buying freehold or strata title property. Before signing a contract, check to see if you’d be paying for:
- a community title
- a right to reside in the dwelling, like a leasehold or rental
- a loan or licence–meaning you loan money to the village operator in exchange for a licence to live there
- shares in a village
- units in a unit trust
- a title or strata with restriction on use and sale of the property.
Additional payments may include:
- bond or deposit
- bills for energy, water and rates
- maintenance and upkeep
- residents' association fees
- one-off or ongoing fees after you leave.
Before signing a contract for retirement accommodation, check if it covers:
- all up-front payments and ongoing fees–including who pays the bills for energy, water and rates
- an explanation of how and when fees may increase
- a clear list of the facilities and services you receive
- all rules and requirements and whether you have a say in how the village is managed
- requirements for a residents' association
- any requirement for you to sign financial and/or medical power of attorney over to the operator
- a clear outline of the dispute resolution system
- processes for leaving the village
- payments you can expect from the operator if you leave the village and any delays to these.
If you own a title to your retirement home, check if there are any restrictions on how, when and to whom you can sell it, as well as how much, if any, of the capital gain on the property you receive–in some contracts the village keeps all or part of the capital gain.
Centrelink or Veterans Affairs payments you receive might be reduced if you change your living situation. It’s wise to check this before signing a contract.
In some state and territories retirement village operators must give you a:
- contract disclosure statement
- set cooling-off period in case you change your mind after signing.
Check with your local state and territory consumer protection agency and get independent legal advice before signing a contract.