OPTIONS TO SUIT ALL BUDGETS: Retirement communities come in many different forms and price points. Depending on the location, type and standard of accommodation, they can range from very affordable to ultra-luxurious. Even within a community, costs often vary considerably with many different styles of housing and pricing models available.

Pricing Models
There are three main types of retirement community: retirement villages, land lease communities and community-title retirement villages. They operate in slightly different ways and are subject to differing legislation that varies from state to state. Always seek legal and financial advice to find the best retirement living option for your lifestyle and individual circumstances. Retirement Community contracts are not dissimilar to property purchase contracts and can be quite lengthy and detailed. It is important that you receive good legal advice to understand your rights and the rights of the operator.

Retirement villages
Traditionally, residents of retirement villages do not own their home outright, they own the right to live there. New residents pay an initial lump sum known as an Ingoing Contribution, recurrent fees to pay for maintenance and services, and, in some cases, a Deferred Management Fee (DMF), sometimes called a Departure Fee, when they leave.

This DMF model is designed to reduce upfront costs for residents by deferring a percentage of the purchase price until they exit the home. However, some providers also offer alternative payment methods. All of these will be outlined in the contract. NSW was the first state to introduce standard contracts for Retirement Villages in 2013 in an attempt to simplify contracts for all concerned.

Land lease communities
Also known as lifestyle parks, manufactured housing estates and over-55s resorts, land lease communities are not technically retirement villages but they provide very similar services and environments. They are governed by different legislation and typically there are no entry or exit fees. Residents own their home directly but lease the land under it from the operator. The site fee usually includes the cost of maintaining common land and facilities.

Community title retirement villages
Residents of these villages own their home and land outright. The rest of the village is common property and owned by the residents jointly via the body corporate. Villages of this type are relatively rare but are becoming more popular.For detailed information on the rights and responsibilities of retirement living operators and residents please contact NSW Fair Trading or Access Canberra Fair Trading in the ACT.

With the rise of property prices in major centres many retirees are looking further afield to get more bang for their buck. Regional areas can be far more affordable than metropolitan areas and often more conducive to a retirement lifestyle. For many seniors, selling up in Sydney to move up or down the coast is a retirement dream come true.

Standards and age of the property
These can also have a bearing on affordability. If you don’t need all the extras of a state-of-the-art resort with gyms, pools, bowling greens, coffee shops, or cinemas then a more streamlined village/property might be the right solution for you. Many older style villages feature quality accommodation and close-knit communities but without the costs associated with high-end facilities.