Vertical living takes retirement villages to a new level

As our major cities move toward greater population densities, retirement villages are following suit. Changing lifestyles and a taste for urban amenities are driving a shift from sprawling exurban retirement estates to centrally located highrise villages.

A decade of surging property values and the scarcity of suitable sites are other factors driving the upward trend, according to Ben Myers, executive director of the Property Council of Australia.
“It’s really hard to build a traditional retirement village in the suburbs around our capital cities, so it makes sense to look at how you can go up,” Mr Myers told A Current Affair.

“I think people want to stay in the community that they’ve lived in for most of their lives, so those communities in and around cities, they’re built up and increasingly people are happy to consider living in apartments.”

Traditional villa and garden style villages will always be popular but apartment living is increasingly appealing too, especially for inner-city Baby Boomers looking to maintain a fast paced life in retirement. Economies of scale allow vertical villages to offer a wide range of lifestyle facilities designed for lavish living.

RetireAustralia’s new complex, Fancutts, in Brisbane’s inner-north (pictured above), is a case in point. Currently under development on the old Fancutts Tennis Centre site in Lutwyche, RetireAustralia’s first foray into vertical living will feature a cafe and restaurant, private dining room and wine cellar, sports bar, Wellness Hub staffed by health professionals, and a rooftop Sky Deck featuring a BBQ area, community garden and outdoor cinema.

Senior Development Manager Judi Hutchison describes it as a lifestyle proposition “where luxury combines with age-appropriate practicality”.

A similar development underway is Stockland’s Newport project on Brisbane’s Redcliffe Peninsula. The 125-apartment waterside retirement complex, to be completed later this year, will offer views of Moreton Bay and extensive facilities including a gym, swimming pool, library and BBQ area set in a vast outdoor recreation area.

“We wanted to show that people can upsize their quality of life when they chose to downsize their homes,” Stockland Regional Development Manager Pauline Barton says.

“We’re rethinking the traditional retirement living model, providing more options for over-50s to live in well-designed, accessible and low-maintenance communities, with great access to health and lifestyle facilities.”

Thanks to seniors’ better health and extended working lives, the vertical village trend is here to stay, says David Tuffley, senior lecturer at Griffith University’s School of ICT.

“A growing number of retirees who are leading a more active retirement, perhaps still working part-time, want to live closer to the bright lights of the city. It is here that the next generation of retirement living is becoming established in cities around Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the US.”