Over 50s Resorts with the Right Community Feel
Over 50s resorts are growing in popularity as a living option. In terms of regulation, these resorts come under the Manufactured Homes legislation in Queensland whereby you own the home and lease the land from the resort owner. From a financial standpoint, a major advantage is that they are usually more economic than the price of something equivalent with similar facilities in the outside market and capital gains on sale remain with you.
Over 50s resorts offer an active lifestyle in a secure but independent environment. The promise is one of 5 Star living in a community of like-minded people. In fact, one of the most important reasons that people move to an Over 50s resort is the sense of community. How do resort managers develop communities and what should you look for, to see if it’s a community you would like to live in?
According to Vlad Pullich, General Manager of Living Gems, “The most vital people in building a community are the residents themselves. As resort managers, we can certainly help in many areas, but ultimately it is the atmosphere and a sense of community that the residents themselves create. It is their home and we encourage them to build a community that they are happy to be living in. As everybody has different needs and aspirations, you will find that each resort has a slightly different culture and feel that the residents create and this evolves over time.”
Visit, Talk, and Start Making Friends
As each resort has its own culture, it is important that when people are looking to join a resort community, they should understand the culture of the resort beforehand. They should visit many times, attend open days, spend time at the resort, talk to the residents and perhaps even take part in some of the activities, in order to get a feeling of the sense of community. Vlad agrees, “By visiting you will also start friendships and start getting into the community even before you arrive if you decide to go ahead and buy.”
The Physical Facilities Count for a Lot
Important physical factors that will determine the style and sometimes the focus of the community are the location, types of facilities and infrastructure that exist in the resort. Vlad illustrates this with the Living Gems property in Caboolture.
“Homeowners and their guests have exclusive use of a magnificent swimming pool and spa and a country club. Sports facilities include a tennis court, a covered bowling green, ten-pin bowling, a heated swimming pool and a gym. Creative people can hone their talents in the art and craft studio, the music room, and the fully equipped workshop. Social activities are made convenient through the Country Club, the BBQ area, and a fantastic state of the art communal kitchen. So, the infrastructure is there, but the actual activities and events are arranged by the residents themselves to the extent they want and at the times that suit them. I guess we are joint architects of the community in the resort.”
It seems that Over 50s Resorts are exactly what the name suggests – it’s like living in a holiday resort. “We are trying to encourage an active, engaged and social retirement lifestyle. You can see this through the infrastructure that is provided.”
When visiting a resort that you are thinking of living in, you should also judge how empowered the residents appear to be. Simple things such as the physical appearance of the homes in the resort can be a good indicator. Are they regimented, one style fits all designs, or are they more varied with a touch of individualism? Vlad explains, “When you move to a resort you should still be making your own decisions in terms of the home you are buying, your personal lifestyle and having a say in the way your community is run.”
“This is one of the reasons we have several house designs to choose from and interior options. Basically, we want to provide people with affordable properties and space that meet their individual tastes and will make them feel good about their home.”
This accommodation for personal tastes is a great advance from the more regimented communities of just a decade or so ago that was prevalent in the industry. However, Vlad goes on to explain that being an empowered community goes beyond physical choices about your surroundings.
“We have a residents’ committee in each resort and important decisions affecting the community are taken jointly with the committee. For day to day issues, the channels to get things done are well established in all our resorts and we make sure that each and every resident can easily access the resort management.”
“This is a very tangible difference that family-run organisations can offer over larger companies. It is massively empowering when you know that you are going to see and meet the company management face-to-face as people and friends.”
“The new Resident’s Country Club in our Caboolture resort is a very good case study. We had extensive meetings with the committee and residents. Many of the ideas that were put forward have been incorporated into something that the residents and we as managers are equally proud of. It was a joint effort that created the stylish Country Club featuring a beautiful ballroom with a theatre stage and even a cinema. In fact, our consultations about the Country Club are ongoing and they are still resulting in more, state-of-the-art improvements.”
Staying Connected and Enriched
One often forgotten aspect of retirement communities is that it is important to stay connected with the larger community. “The outside connections are very important for a vibrant retirement community,” says Vlad, “You want the day to day interaction with people from all walks of life and all age groups, in order to keep our own community vibrant and connected to the rest of society.”
When we visited Living Gems Caboolture to write this piece, it was great to see a grandmother and her grandson immersed in a game in the bowling alley. Not sure who was winning, but it was great to see the generations and family mixing so naturally to have fun.
“It’s so important for everybody’s energy levels and new ideas. Many of our residents go out to work or for volunteering activities. They travel often and it’s great to hear of their adventures when they return. We also really encourage guests to visit, as this fosters a normal active and social community. Outside connections and interactions enrich the whole of the retirement community.”
Getting the community feel and engagement does not happen by accident, you need a management company that is committed and provides the resources and infrastructure as a support to the residents to define their own community and culture.
Living in an Over 50s resort can give you independence, a like-minded community, the freedom to enjoy life at your own pace and a great lifestyle for your future.
Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide