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Before you look at retirement villages
Moving to a retirement village is a major lifestyle choice. Before you start looking, consider:
- Have you discussed your decision to enter a retirement village with your family, friends, and other people with whom you usually discuss important matters?
- Why are you thinking of moving from your current home? Have you considered alternatives, such as home help, seeking help from government or other agencies, or moving to a smaller home?
- How will you finance the move? Have you asked a financial planner about the best way to manage your income and spending?
- If you are considering selling your home, have you checked the state of the property market? For more about selling your home, view our Buying and selling property section.
- Where do you want to live? If you are moving to be close to family or friends, have you asked them about their plans for the future?
You are more likely to make the right choices if you:
- know what you want. Make a list of what you absolutely must have in a retirement village and another of features that are desirable but not essential
- seek expert advice; for example, taking the retirement village contract to a lawyer and/or a financial advisor before you sign
- are informed about your options
- shop around
- refuse to be hassled or hurried into a decision.
Seniors Information Victoria is a government-funded organisation that provides free information to older Victorians about housing options, from independent living to residential care. Telephone 1300 135 090.
How to compare retirement villages
To compare one village to another:
- see as many as possible that fit your location and financial requirements. Ask each operator the same range of questions (see the questions to help you compare retirement villages below)
- talk to residents about what they like and don’t like about the village
- talk to friends and family and ask them to come with you
- use the Important information for prospective retirement village residents list on our Before you sign a retirement village contract page to compare retirement villages. By law, an operator must give you this list with the other contract documents
- compare the retirement villages’ contracts. Before you sign up to one, make sure it reflects any verbal assurances you receive.
Retirement village contracts are not the same as ordinary residential property contracts. Before signing, take all documents about the retirement village to a legal practitioner and/or financial adviser who understands the legal and financial implications of retirement village contracts.
The law requires that you be given a retirement village contract at least 21 days before you sign.
You can find legal practitioners through the Law Institute of Victoria’s legal referral service, and financial planners through the Financial Planning Association of Australia.
Questions to help you compare retirement villages
Retirement village waiting list
- Does the retirement village have a waiting list?
- Do you have to pay to be on it? If so, will you get any of that money refunded should you enter the retirement village, or if a place does not become available in a certain time or you change your mind?
- How does the retirement village manage the waiting list if some of the residents are selling through an estate agent?
Life in the retirement village
- What is the retirement village’s position on pets, visitors and car parking?
- Does the retirement village have a bus? How is it used and maintained?
- How close is the village to all the facilities you want, such as public transport, medical facilities, shopping facilities, entertainment?
- Are residents actively involved in decisions concerning the level of maintenance and services provided and their cost? How may these fees be varied in the future?
- Does the retirement village have a residents’ committee and if so, how are its members elected?
- What system does the retirement village have for maintaining the property?
- What system does the retirement village have for resolving disputes?
- What are the restrictions on your use of the retirement village facilities and your unit?
- What common areas are available? You will probably have to pay for maintenance of these as part of your ongoing fees, so check what you will be paying for. Basic common areas might include a community room and outdoor sitting area. However, some retirement villages include extensive common areas such as a hairdressing salon, medical consulting room, workshop, bar, swimming pool, bowling green and barbecue area.
- What are the retirement village units like?
- Have you seen one that is identical or very similar to the unit you may move into?
- How much freedom do you have to change the unit to fit your tastes?
- If the operator claims that more facilities are planned, is this claim reflected in their promotional material? Are there any conditions attached?
- Does the retirement village have an activities coordinator? If you choose not to participate in the activities, are you still required to pay part of the cost through your ongoing fees?
Long term needs in the retirement village
- Does the retirement village provide optional support services if you need them, such as assistance with meals, cleaning and other personal services? If so, can you adjust your contract to include these services, and at what cost?
- Are meals available? Where, how often and at what cost?
- Is there a common dining room? Can you bring your own meals to eat there? Can you invite guests?
- Is there hostel or nursing home accommodation in the area? You may not want to move very far if you need to go into aged care. Places in aged care are allocated under a Commonwealth assessment system, but if there is no aged care in your community, it is more likely you will have to move away.
- Could you be moved from the retirement village or within the village without your consent? If so, under what circumstances could you be moved? For more information about whether a retirement village can make you leave, view our Leaving a retirement village page.
- If the retirement village owner or manager will claim pensioner rebates on your behalf, would you receive all the benefits of the rebates?
Leaving the retirement village
- What is the cost of leaving the village? What are the departure or exit fees?
- Will you be required to pay the cost of refurbishment? Who decides what needs to be done and at what cost?
- When would you get access to your money (if you own your unit, the proceeds of sale; if not, the refundable portion of ingoing contribution) after you leave the retirement village?
- If you need to transfer to another facility, will your ingoing contribution be refunded at that point or transferred to the new facility?
- Are there any restrictions on selling your unit? For example, the village may have selection criteria about ethnicity or religious affiliation.
- What protection in terms of your current rights would you have if the retirement village was sold to an organisation which had different philosophies from the existing management?
Last updated: 22/05/2013