The decision to move into a retirement village should not be rushed in any way. Once committed, it is not easily undone, and usually not without loss.
Here is a checklist of issues that need to be explored and thought through prior to progressing with your retirement living decision.
- Lifestyle choices and financial costs are both important. The emotional components of the decision need careful consideration as well as the financial aspects.
- Visit a variety of villages and picture yourself in each of them. Talk to residents as well as your friends and family when making a decision.
- How will you continue to include your loved ones in your life at the village you choose? Will you be close to friends and family? Can they stay overnight for a short visit? Are pets allowed? Does the village include bus/transport services?
- An engaging lifestyle is an important consideration. Can you keep up your favourite hobbies or learn new ones? What clubs/social groups/activities are offered?
- Can you afford the ongoing costs – not just entry costs? Understand what they are.
- What happens with any capital gain on the unit? Some allow no gain while some share it equally with the operator.
- What are the renovation or refurbishment requirements or obligations on exit?
- Exit fees – what are they? How are they calculated?
- If you leave the retirement village what are your entitlements? How soon would they be paid?
- What sort of contract are you entering into – freehold? Lease? Licence to reside?
- What arrangements are there for ill health/support/hospitalisation if needed?
- Ongoing care. For higher level care can you stay in the village or do you have to move elsewhere? Consider the costs of transitioning.
- Home Help and Aged Care is a vital consideration. Plan these sooner rather than later. What options are available?
- Do you prefer new, or established accommodation? High-rise? A garden? Take time to view a variety of options. If possible, look closely at floor plans and view lived in areas, not just a display unit.
- Ask about the demographics of each option – does the age range of other occupants suit you?
- If you are still partnered, would fees be manageable if you become single through separation or death?
- Can you maintain your own garden? How would the area be modified for your pet?
- What’s covered in the GSC (general service charge)? Do you pay for electricity, gas, water, internet separately? Are these shared, or are they individual costs?
- Can you meet the on-site manager? Do you relate well?
- What involvement does the residents’ committee have? How are disputes resolved in the Village?
- Is the security in the village suitable for you?
- What arrangements are in place for maintenance of units, community facilities, grounds/common areas.
- Are meals or a dining area available?
- When are village staff on duty? How often is there a nurse on duty? Who responds to emergency call buttons? Are these provided?
- Review amenities and services. For example wheelchair access, physio, exercise and relaxation classes, gym equipment, pool, spa, hairdresser, men’s shed, library etc.
The State Government in its retirement village documentation strongly recommends obtaining Independent legal advice prior to signing a retirement village contract. When entering into any retirement village contract always use a lawyer with extensive experience in that area, not a generalist lawyer or conveyancer.
Lesa Macpherson is an expert in all forms of retirement village contracts at Sunshine Coast Elder Law. Visit sunshinecoastelderlaw.com.au or call 1800 961 622.
or Brisbane Elder Law. Visit brisbaneelderlaw.com.au