Lifestyle community accommodation

Lifestyle community accommodation

by Christine Hopper

Retirees are choosing to live in lifestyle community accommodation rather than stay on in the family home. But what type of housing is available in a lifestyle community.

Lifestyle community accommodation includes any separate ‘community’ of individual independent living residences.

Older lifestyle communities were known as retirement villages with individual villas in a garden setting with a communal recreational facilities in the village centre.
The smaller villas could be one bedroom one living area with a small private courtyard.
Larger villas might include two bedrooms an en-suite bathroom, a large open living area and a private garden big enough to accommodate a dog. Some new villas could be larger than the first homes these seniors were able to build in 1950.

The independent individual villa lifestyle community accommodation usually requires a substantial ingoing payment. Residents usually buy a strata title, a “right to occupy” (also termed “lend-lease” agreement) but rarely a freehold title to their individual villa unit in a retirement village. Some retirement villages lease the independent living villa to the resident.

Newer luxury lifestyle community accommodation

Both charitable and commercial organisations are establishing suburban lifestyle communities. The luxury lifestyle community accommodation could be a new air-conditioned apartment with three bedrooms, two bathrooms a study and large open plan living areas. A balcony or private courtyard is expected in newer lifestyle community accommodation developments. The private outdoor area allows for the smokers to indulge close to their homes without setting off the fire alarms.

The newer suburban lifestyle community accommodation could be in an imposing four storey residence with a grand entry, concierge and underground car park. The community centre of recreational facilities, casual café, dining rooms and service areas could occupy much of the ground floor.

The upfront cost of moving into a luxury lifestyle community could be similar to the cost of purchasing a comparable strata title apartment in that locality.

More compact lifestyle community accommodation is in terraced units or walk up apartment blocks.

Charitable organisations include some more compact lifestyle community accommodation in their lifestyle communities.

These smaller homes could be in low rise apartment blocks, individual cabins or as terrace housing with small gardens. Compact accommodation could have one bedroom, a bathroom and an open kitchen living area.

Compact apartments and townhouses are generally affordable to retirees who cannot ‘contribute’ a large ingoing payment. An Age Pensioner without much superannuation or other financial resources, could expect to afford the rent for a compact lifestyle community accommodation. The modest rent for compact lifestyle community accommodation would include use of any communal facilities within that lifestyle community.

Newer modest lifestyle community accommodation in manufactured homes

Retirees with only modest amounts of home equity might prefer to live in an estate of manufactured home. These estates lease home sites in ‘sea change’ and ‘tree change’ locations for retirees to bring, or buy, their own ‘manufactured homes’.

The residents are then responsible for maintaining their own ‘homes’ to the standard required by the estate operator. A manufactured home could be as spacious as any suburban home but it would be ‘parked’ and connected to power, water and sewer just like a caravan or demountable building.

Manufactured home estates could offer similar recreational facilities to other seniors’ lifestyle communities. But the estate ‘rules’ could be set by the operator/owner without much input from the current residents. Therefore, the keeping of companion animals and maintaining a ‘private’ outdoor area could be at the discretion of the owner/operator of the estate.

Thus the relationship of the resident and to the operator/owner/sponsor of the estate is likely to be that of a tenant and caravan park operator. These manufactured home estates could be covered by ‘Caravan Park’ legislation not ‘Retirement Village’ legislation.

Choosing affordable lifestyle community accommodation

Where to live in retirement is a personal choice. The location and ingoing cost of lifestyle community accommodation are major factors in determining where to live. Attention to the ongoing costs and exit terms as part of your initial consideration of lifestyle community accommodation could spare you financial and emotional distress later.
Read more about Lifestyle community retirement village costs

A consultation with Christine at Financial Care Services could help with understanding the financial aspects of your moving into lifestyle community accommodation. 

Help is available to consider the DVA and Centrelink aspects before you sign up for a lifestyle community retirement village. Contact Financial Care Services to arrange a lifestyle community retirement village entry consultation.

Financial Care Services is an independent financial advisory service specialising in seniors in transition to new accommodation and DVA Centrelink Pensions

Timing of departure from lifestyle community accommodation

The manager of a retirement village may ask you to leave the lifestyle community accommodation if you are no longer able to live safely in your independent home or if you disturb other residents.

You could not expect to remain living in a lifestyle community if your rent and/or service fees are in arrears.

The ownership of a manufactured home estate could change; the new owners might decide to use the land for another purpose and require the owners of the manufactured homes to move on.
Your site lease could include the terms for requiring residents to move their homes from a caravan park or manufactured home estate. Whilst your site lease might terminate without an exit fee, the costs of disconnecting your manufactured home from the utilities and moving to another seniors’ estate could be substantial.

Financial arrangements on exiting lifestyle community accommodation

If you were just renting lifestyle community accommodation then the usual termination of tenancy rules would apply when you exit.

But if you had bought a strata title to an independent living unit then you would need to sell it to someone who could sign a new service agreement with the manager/sponsor of that lifestyle community. You could be required to pay the regular service fee until the new owner moves in to the retirement village.

Newer lifestyle community resident contracts could be that the resident paid an in-going amount to purchase the ‘right to occupy’ a specified independent living unit. The return of any in-going payment for lifestyle community accommodation is governed by your contract with the manager/sponsor of that lifestyle community.

Remember that on entering a lifestyle community you are buying a ‘lifestyle’ not a property investment. The ‘outgoing’ payment amount could be significantly less than your ‘in-going’ payment.

Seek independent financial advice before you sign a contract to buy into lifestyle community accommodation.

Independent financial advice before you sign the Resident Agreement could help the family understand that the seniors have adequate income to cover the costs of living in their chosen lifestyle community accommodation. An advance explanation of the exit costs and deferred fees could avoid nasty surprises later.

A consultation with Financial Care Services could Illustrate your lifestyle community accommodation costs. Your potential income from DVA or Age Pension and interest income could be included in your Illustrations.

Your family are welcome to accompany you to your consultation at Financial Care Services. Your Attorney and other family members would then understand that you are buying a ‘lifestyle’ and that your exit payment might be less than your in-going contribution.

Christine at Financial Care services is an independent financial adviser experienced with DVA and Centrelink income support and health care cards. Contact Financial Care Services to arrange to arrange a lifestyle community retirement village entry consultation.

Financial Care Services is an independent aged care financial advisory service specialising in seniors in transition to new accommodation and lifestyles plus Centrelink Pensions.

Financial Care Services core value in financial advice is to assist with your money plan in the responsible management of your assets to generate the cash flow needed for your lifetime planning. Christine at Financial Care Services understands both the DVA and Centrelink Pensions systems and the Commonwealth aged care fee arrangements.

To make an appointment for confidential, independent and professional advice about Centrelink, lifestyle or financial issues please contact Christine Hopper 03 9808 0338.

The information contained in this website is of a general nature only and does not constitute “financial advice”. You should obtain your own personal financial advice before investing any money or moving in to any retirement village, lifestyle community or aged care facility. Financial Care Services is licensed to provide financial advice to individual clients based on their personal situations.
All eligibility for Commonwealth benefits will be determined by Centrelink or DVA, based on your personal position as documented and the legislation and Regulations in force at that time.
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