I’m Retiring, What Are My Options?

Seniors sitting on a park bench smiling

So, where would you like to live now that you are in your 50s, 60s, 70s or senior years? The list of choices is growing. You could stay in your own home, you could downsize, you could stay close or have a complete change of scenery. You could also move into a lifestyle resort or a retirement village, and these come in many designs, both horizontal and vertical so there is even more choice.

With advances in technology and a greater understanding of what over 50s want, there are options aplenty and a living arrangement for every need, budget, and desire. You can make your retirement your own, customising your living arrangements to what you really want and ensuring that you receive the support you need, and the lifestyle you want.

Staying Independently At Home

Most over 50’s and 60’s do stay in their own home and continue to live independently. This is a realistic option for those in established communities, and for those who live near to their friends and loved ones. You don’t have to uproot yourself, and you can stay exactly where you wish. Additionally, thanks to diverse technologies that allow us to stay more mobile, and in-home services; remaining in our own house is more possible than ever before. However, as we age it can become more difficult and there may come a time to downsize, or perhaps the family home is costing too much to maintain. Another reason to downsize could be to take advantage of the built up equity in your home to do things you may always have wanted to do.

There are options there too, in the form of moving into a smaller place or an apartment. Whilst these abound in the Gold Coast, many developers have started taking more account of the growing over 50s market and include features that appeal to this age group such as high-end finishings and designs that have fewer stairs, flatter ground, and easier appliances.

You can also make your life easier in retirement whilst remaining independent by simply shifting yourself to a smaller space such as an apartment from a large family home, which can also be located nearer to the services you require such as medical facilities, transport and entertainment.

One of the very big advantages of staying independently is that you own the freehold and can do as you please in terms of selling the property, renting it out or renovating it.

Retirement Villages

Other options for you include shifting to a retirement village.

As Brett Mullen Managing Director of Yukana Integrated Wellness Community in Toowoomba points out, “When discussing what the community feel that retirement villages offer in comparison to living alone, one must realise that everyone is different, some people like to have lots of engagement, some not so much. It is very important that a village caters for all residents in their social requirements, and provides an atmosphere of inclusiveness for all levels of engagement. A village is very different from living alone, it is a place that you will have choice in what level of engagement you desire, as there are lots activities / friendship that you can be a part of in a village community. A village will give you a greater sense of feeling secure in your social engagements, in your place of residence and for your current or future care requirements.”

Retirement villages offer the benefits of greater security than your own home, with the presence of staff who are always there in case of emergency. Retirement villages also offer a great sense of community, which can be missing if you are at home alone and perhaps find transport a difficulty. Most retirement village residents report that they become more active and form great friendships with the other residents.

More and more, retirement village operators have been focusing on the lifestyle and healthy living aspects of life in their villages. There are organised outings and regular invited service providers such as yoga instructors, masterchefs and arts and crafts teachers.

Land Lease Resorts

Resort living is not quite living in an independent house, and not a retirement village. It is designed to provide luxury in a village atmosphere. Residents usually have access to an exclusive country club, sometimes with a ten pin bowling alley, luxury cinema, sauna and spa. Over 50s and Over 55s resorts give you the option to enjoy retirement and enjoy maximum independence. These facilities provide services that will make you feel as if you are living in a hotel with garden care, cleaning, in-home services, and resort features such as pools, spas, tennis courts, and golf courses.

You can find resort living by the sea, in the mountains, or even in city communities. They are a fantastic option for those who desire only a little help and who enjoy the closeness of a likeminded community. Plus, there is the added benefit of resort luxury and easy to access amenities. Note however, that you do not get the medical and other support services to the same extent as you do in a retirement village.

Resort style communities will usually be under the Land Lease legislation whereby; you own the home but lease the land on which the home sits from the community operator. The advantages in this arrangement include a lower initial cost because you do not pay for the land. You also do not pay exit fees and would be entitled to capital gains relating to the dwelling on sale. On the reverse side, you have to pay fees in relation to the lease of the land to the community operator on an ongoing basis.

Luxury Apartment Living

Apartment living for seniors

Luxury living can come in both the traditional format of landed villages and also as ‘vertical living’. These are apartment complexes, usually with great views and easy access. According to Fenton M. Norrie, Director of Serene Living, a vertical village in Tweed, “Choosing to live in a vertical village with resort style apartments offers advantages unparalleled in traditional retirement communities. You can live in prime locations central to all amenities that would otherwise be unaffordable. For example, here at Serene Living we are walking distance to Coolangatta, voted one of Australia’s best beaches for 2017, and only 50 metres from the stunning Tweed River.”

Apartment living also sees you living nearby those of a similar life stage, and instead of having to drive to visit your friends all you have to do is pop into an elevator. They are also very private and offer significant functionality and accessibility.

Fenton sums up the benefits of vertical villages, “Where else on a retirement budget could you live in a beautiful, modern new home with such spectacular views, in the heart of a vibrant beach city with shops, entertainment, sports clubs, and the best nature has to offer, all on your doorstep. You no longer have to sacrifice some of your must-haves when choosing a place to retire. Garden and pool upkeep, cumbersome stairs and out of pocket expenses to maintain an older property are just some of the things vertical living eliminates. This leaves you more time and money to focus on what really matters – having fun, socializing with new friends, staying fit and healthy or indulging those travel whims that go hand in hand with turn-key living.”

Staying With Family

Seniors with their home care agency

A large proportion of Australians live with their families in their mature years. Either sharing the family house of a child or in a “Granny Flat”. There have been many studies to show that this type of arrangement can be beneficial for both parties. The parent is in a secure environment and in close proximity to loved ones, including the much loved grandkids.

The grown child feels good that he or she is looking after the parent and can also rely on the parent to help with looking after the grandkids. This type of intergenerational living arrangement is also believed to keep the older person active, healthier and better engaged with the community at large.

The term Granny Flat, probably does not do justice to the innovative and great designs and options that are now available. The flats can range from simple modular homes to quite luxurious, modern designs, depending upon the space available and of course the budget; but by and large excellent, functional designs are available.

Affordable Rentals

Seniors having a consultation

Whilst ownership seems to be highly preferred amongst Australians, rentals are a very realistic option, that is affordable and frees up the equity in your home to use for other important aspects of your lifestyle. With rentals there are no entry or exit fees and of course no stamp duty or ongoing management fees.

Another advantage of rentals is that you can stay as long or as a short a period as you want. In spite of the simplicity of this option there are not many catering specifically for this age group, however, one is Eureka Villages.

All of these options we have mentioned have access to inhome care, and companies have surfaced providing help with the home, garden, and healthcare without having to leave your front door. You could even get a lift to the local shop, to a medical appointment, or to a community sports centre with these services. They ensure that you remain independent and well cared for, no matter where you are.

Whether you want to live in your old home, in a new one, in an apartment, or down by the water in a resort style unit, the over 50’s have an endless stream of retirement options to choose from and a natural progression between levels of independence and care. Plan ahead – decide the lifestyle you want, the level of support, and the level of care you may need down the line, and know that whatever you want, it can be catered for.

Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide

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