Retirement Village & Over 55s Lifestyle Village: What’s the difference?

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The kids have moved out and the family home feels big and empty. Maintaining the house is all a bit too much and you’re craving a change.

If this sounds like you, then downsizing to a Retirement or Over 55s Lifestyle Village could be your next step!

Both options will give you a low-maintenance lifestyle with many additional social and security benefits. But the two options are different when it comes to the legal and financial fine print.

We’re going to breakdown and compare their differences so you can make an informed decision to safeguard your future.

What’s an Over 55s Lifestyle Village like?

An Over 55s Lifestyle Village is often compared to resort living. Imagine sipping cocktails on your front porch as the in-house gardener tidies up the hedges half an hour before your tennis match with the neighbours.

Residents who live in Lifestyle Villages manage their own life and social activities themselves, fostering a micro community. Many individuals over 55 are attracted to this option because it provides them with a self-sufficient, varied lifestyle and a secure environment.

The legalities 

An Over 55s Lifestyle Village contract typically states that you’re purchasing the building and renting the land it sits on, making the upfront costs more affordable.

The rent also covers the operator’s fees (which includes the maintenance of facilities) and there’s no stamp duty, council rates or exit fees.

Once you own a home within a Lifestyle Village, you can keep 100% of any capital gains and it’s now a part of your estate as a willable asset.

If you decide to leave the Village, the house must be put up for sale or be taken it with you somehow. Remembering that the Village operators own the land, they also have the right to give you notice to vacate the land with as little as six months’ notice.

On the plus side, residents of Over 55s Lifestyle Villages may be eligible for Government assistance with site fees. 

Do I want to live in a Retirement Village?

Retirement Villages provide a more structured and managed experience for its residents. They’re purpose built for older people and the activities and facilities are managed by the Village operators. They maintain a strong sense of community while delivering on their point of difference of a secure premises and services focused on health and wellbeing.

The legalities 

There are two types of contracts to consider for Retirement Villages: Freehold and Leasehold.

Freehold contracts require you to buy a unit or villa on a strata title. You would own the property the same way you would if purchasing a standard house. 

A Leasehold contract means you’d be purchasing a 99-year lease. For this type of contract, it’s a requirement to pay stamp duty and you’re entitled to occupy that building for the duration of the lease. The big catch is that you don’t own the building or the land.

The Leasehold contract also includes a monthly fee that covers council and water rates, building insurance, facility maintenance (including gardening), and a 24-hour emergency service.

What happens when you leave the Retirement Village? The Village operator will put your house up for sale within a set timeframe or buy it back from you, however you will have to pay exit fees.

In addition, your capital gains are not guaranteed as it depends on the individual contract.

Our advice

Take the time to read over the paperwork thoroughly. Take note of the fees and policy details as each option is different.

Ask for advice. Talk to the people you know who live in an Over 55s or Retirement Village, as first-hand experiences can help shape your views.

Iron out the nitty gritty legal and financial aspects by turning to a trusted property conveyancer. We will run through the fine print with a magnifying glass to ensure that your assets and future is protected.

If you’d like to talk to an experience Property Conveyancer about your options call us on 4910 0522 or email fiona@imperoconveyancing.com.au.

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