Manufactured housing retirement lifestyle communities

Manufactured housing retirement lifestyle communities

by Christine Hopper

Manufactured housing is housing that is manufactured and then parked where the owner has chosen to live. Seniors gather in manufactured housing lifestyle communities that appear like any other retirement village lifestyle communities.

What does manufactured housing look like

Manufactured housing is like a transportable building. Manufactured housing is the residential version of the demountable classroom in an expanding school. Manufactured housing takes many forms.

The retirement village look is attained with full scale manufactured housing homes. These manufactured housing homes are supported above ground. In contrast, similar timber buildings are set on foundations lodged into the ground. The plumbing connections for the manufactured housing homes are usually visible below the floor level of the manufactured housing whereas a normal timber home has direct connections below.

Very modest manufactured housing could be a caravan with a canvas annex in a caravan park. At the next level are on-site cabins with a separate bedroom and a proper bathroom that have mains water and sewerage connected. These smaller formats of manufactured housing could be transported and then installed at new locations.

The external layer of manufactured housing is generally timber or lightweight cladding. Ceramic tile roofs are unlikely for manufactured housing. The supports are concrete stumps for permanent placements with a timber screen surrounding the perimeter. The more mobile manufactured housing might have it retractable metal supports to allow for easy placement.

Where to park your manufactured housing

You could buy manufactured housing and arrange for its placement in a retirement lifestyle community of similar homes. These retirement lifestyle communities could feel like any other retirement village. The major difference is that all of the independent living units have wooden steps or ramps up to the entrance and maybe a pretty timber deck. You might be permitted to plant a garden in the soil surrounding your manufactured housing home.

You could lease a ‘permanent site’ in a caravan park and live there in your manufactured housing. Semi-rural towns allow permanent sites in special sections of the municipal caravan park. But you might be required to use the communal ablution block if direct connections to water and sewerage are not allowed. The ‘permanent residents’ could be allowed to edge their sites with low level demountable fencing and potted plants. Planting your own garden might not be permitted.

You could park your manufactured housing in a suburban backyard or on a friend’s rural property. Maybe your family are buying the manufactured housing to provide granny flat accommodation for a senior. Local council rules would determine exactly where you can put your manufactured housing and how to connect services to it.

Contracts for manufactured housing

You buy your new manufactured housing home from the supplier just like you would buy a caravan. So your first contract is with the factory to make your manufactured housing home with your chosen colour scheme and fit out.

Then you enter a separate contract with the manufactured home / caravan park operator to lease a permanent site for your manufactured housing home.

Reading the detail in these contracts is essential before you sign to buy or install a manufactured housing home. These contracts involve major commitments. Therefore you are advised to consult a lawyer before you sign a contract to purchase a manufactured housing home or to locate your manufactured home on land that you do not own.

But to actually live in your new home you will need electricity, water and sewerage to be connected. The process and fees for gaining these connections could be set by the manufactured home / caravan park operator. You will pay connection fees either directly to the utility companies or via the manufactured home / caravan park operator.

Centrelink and manufactured housing lifestyle community living

Seniors can be reliant on the Age Pension for income in retirement. Age Pension recipients who do not own a home can apply for ‘rent assistance’ from Centrelink.

Long term renters on the move into a manufactured housing lifestyle community

Consider John and Judy who had always rented a home. When they retired from work, John and Judy used their superannuation money to buy a large caravan and a new vehicle strong enough to tow their mobile home. After a year of touring Australia John and Judy parked their caravan home permanently in a coastal retirement lifestyle community park. Now their home is connected to the electricity grid, mains water and sewerage John and Judy feel like settled home owners. But each month John and Judy pay a service fee for their site and utility connections.

At Centrelink, John and Judy are a non-homeowner couple. Their caravan is counted as an ‘asset’ and its market value included in their total assessed assets. John and Judy have very little in the bank and no remaining superannuation. Their very modest situation allows John and Judy to receive the full rate of Age Pension. In addition Centrelink pay Rent Assistance to John and Judy to help with the costs of the service fee for the site where their manufactured housing home is parked.

The Age Pension plus Rent Assistance provides John and Judy with a very modest lifestyle. The other residents of their manufactured housing lifestyle community are also Age Pensioner retirees.

Selling the family home and buying into a manufactured housing lifestyle community

In contrast, Sue and Sam have owned a modest family home for decades. But Sue and Sam had only small superannuation balances when they retired. The superannuation money was mainly spent on some overseas travel, their first big holiday ever. Sue and Sam then find themselves at home with only the Age Pension for income and no cash savings. Sue and Sam decide to sell their home and buy into a manufactured housing lifestyle community. They expect to have some money in the bank to supplement their full Age Pensions.

Sue and Sam are surprised that Centrelink assess them for the Age Pension Assets Test as having $500,000, the full amount released by the sale of their former home. Sue and Sam used part of their half a million dollars to buy their manufactured housing and a new car. These are both counted at market value for the Assets Test. They retain $300,000 is in the bank after paying establishment costs in their lifestyle community. The establishment costs included one month’s site service fees in advance plus the costs of connecting electricity, water and sewerage to their manufactured housing home.

At Centrelink Sue and Sam have total assets of $500,000 and a deemed financial income of $8,450 per year. As non-homeowners Sue and Sam are not impacted by the Assets Test. But the Income Test reduces their combined Age Pensions by $6.25 each per fortnight. Sue and Sam are able to claim Rent Assistance from Centrelink to help with the site service fees for their manufactured housing lifestyle community.

Sam and Sue are able to spend a little of their savings on leisure activities and travel to visit family and friends. But they are very aware that their living costs exceed their regular income and they have no big assets to sell.

Before you sign up for a manufactured housing lifestyle community check out the impact on your Age Pension.

Help is available. Christine at Financial Care Services is experienced with Centrelink Pension Applications and the many Centrelink financial means tests.

Financial Care Services offers Short Consultations to help you check your financial position against the means tests for an Age Pension, DSP or a Carer Payment.

If you think that you might be eligible for a part Pension you can call Christine on 03 9808 0338 to arrange a Short Consultation, 45 minutes in person or by telephone and/or email to check your position. Please ask for a special ‘short consultation’ when you book your appointment.

The ‘$99 Special Age Pension Illustration Short Consultation’ provides personal factual financial information in the form of an Illustration of the amount of Centrelink Age Pension you could receive today provided that you satisfied the age and residency conditions.  Longer personal factual financial information consultations are possible for clients who wish to explore how Centrelink would treat different scenarios.  Personal factual financial information consultations are charged at $132 per hour including GST.

Christine could also assist you with collating your personal data, estimating how much Pension or Carer Payment you could expect to receive and completing the Centrelink forms for you to sign. Normal hourly rate consultation fees apply for assistance with personal data collation, completing Centrelink forms and attendance at a Centrelink office with you.

Financial Care Services also offers full financial advice consultations for retail clients considering retirement or a move into retirement lifestyle community village, suported accommodation or aged care.  Financial Care Services charges professional hourly rate fees for all consultations that include financial advice and/or discussions about your financial position.

Moving on from a manufactured housing lifestyle community

You could continue living in your manufactured housing home as long as you are physically and mentally capable of living independently. You could have ‘aged care help to stay at home’ provided to you in your manufactured housing home. But once you cannot manage at home even with help, then you would need to move.

You could be required to move on if you are not coping with the responsibilities of living in the manufactured home / caravan park. If you cannot maintain your manufactured housing home, collect your mail and get your garbage to the communal bins then you would need move on to serviced accommodation.

Resale of your manufactured housing home is possible. The purchaser would need to buy the manufactured housing home from you. Then the purchaser would need to sign up with your manufactured home / caravan park operator to be allowed to live in your manufactured housing home where it is. Otherwise the purchaser would need to have the utility connections removed and then transport the manufactured housing home to the new owners’ preferred location.

Remember that you will be charged the regular service fee for a long as your manufactured housing home is parked in that retirement lifestyle community or caravan park.

Therefore you need a financial assessment to check out your proposed move into manufactured housing lifestyle community. You just do not need the stress and financial distress of having to leave early for health reasons.

Financial planning advice before buying manufactured housing 

A Retirement Planning Consultation with Christine at Financial Care Services could spare you distress later. Christine understands the wonders of Age Pension means tests and how you could be asked to pay for residential aged care when you become too frail to stay in the retirement lifestyle community or caravan park.

Your family are welcome to attend your Financial Care Services consultation with you. Your close relatives could then be reassured that you understand the implications of buying into a manufactured housing retirement lifestyle community or caravan park.

Call Christine now on 03 9808 0338 to get started with expert financial advice or email her,

At Financial Care Services, our objective is to assist clients to arrange their financial affairs responsibly and claim any relevant Centrelink benefits. Your adviser at Financial Care Services comprehends the Centrelink DSP and Age Pension system and the potential costs of Commonwealth regulated residential aged care.

When your manufactured housing lifestyle community is closing down

Long stay caravan parks that welcome permanent residents are often established on the outskirts of coastal towns and attractive country areas. As the sea change and tree change retirees arrive, the value of the caravan park land escalates and the caravan park is targeted for redevelopment.

Your contract with the manufactured home / caravan park operator could allow for you to be given notice to move out so that the land can be redeveloped for another purpose. Your contract would state the minimum period of notice required.

If your manufactured housing home is of modest proportions and structurally sound then you could have it moved to another manufactured housing lifestyle community. But big manufactured housing the size of a modest suburban home, might not fit on a ‘wide load’ transporter. Alas, some long established manufactured housing homes might crumble when lifted from their supports.

Major issues arise when the manufactured home / caravan park operator is closing down and new buildings constructed on that land. The permanent residents of the manufactured home / caravan park would forfeit any manufactured housing homes that could not be relocated. Compensation might not be payable for having to abandon your manufactured housing home when the land beneath is to be redeveloped.

A consultation with Christine at Financial Care Services before you sign up for a manufactured housing home could help you understand what you are buying. Spending money now on independent advice could spare you from losing your life savings later.

Call Christine now on 03 9808 0338 to make an appointment for independent retirement living advice.

Challenges for living in a manufactured housing lifestyle community

The good aspect of living in a manufactured housing home is that you own the home. As your own home you can paint the internal walls any colour you like. You can hang pictures anywhere you want. You could keep a tank of tropical fish in your living room. You could have a feline provided that it lived totally indoors and/or in a fully secured cat enclosure on your deck.

You are free to up and move your manufactured housing home to another place if you want. If your home is capable of being towed on normal roads then you can take it around Australia.

The less attractive aspect of owning a manufactured housing home is that you are responsible for its upkeep and maintenance. Insurance of the manufactured housing structure is a good idea.

When you park your home you are subject to the service fee and rules of your host park operator. If the service fee increases markedly you have the option of taking your home and moving on. But moving your manufactured housing home to another lifestyle community is costly.

Whilst you are parked and part of a lifestyle community or caravan park, then you must comply with the rules of that park. The park rules are generally intended to ensure good environmental practices and minimise friction between residents.

You would expect the park to have rules about late night noise, boundary markers for individual sites, placement of pot plants and parking for residents’ vehicles and visitors’ cars. Detailed rules would apply to where your canine friend could go. Messy, noisy, yapping or barking dogs are not tolerated as close neighbours in  lifestyle communities.

Remember the rules are to support your peaceful enjoyment of the lifestyle community.

Financial Care Services your independent financial adviser

Financial Care Services is an independent aged care financial advisory service for seniors in transition to new lifestyles and 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 is an expert professional adviser at Financial Care Services. Christine Hopper is a specialist adviser about both the DVA and Centrelink Pensions systems. She understands the Commonwealth aged care fee arrangements and can help your family with the aged care entry paperwork.

To book an appointment for confidential, independent and expert professional advice about Centrelink DSP and Age Pensions, Commonwealth regulated residential aged care, lifestyle or financial issues please contact Christine Hopper 03 9808 0338 or email your enquiry.

Disclaimer: 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. © 2017 Financial Care Services Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.