After moving to the coast to retire, we purchased a townhouse in a block of six. We enjoyed our own private pool and drove in and out via a coded gate, straight into our private garage. At first, we thought the privacy would be great but as time passed, we became quite disillusioned with the lifestyle that townhouse living offered.
Every single activity required driving off somewhere, there was no neighbourhood feel and no connection to the other dwellings in the street. Half of the townhouses were tenanted and the other two had employed occupants, so as retirees we simply kept different hours. The constant churn of tenants and their lack of respect for common property and body corporate bylaws was always cause for some concern. In a nutshell, if this was it for retirement, it sucked.
We had a chance conversation with a sporting acquaintance about five years ago and she mentioned she was moving to an over-50s complex. She was moving from a townhouse in a complex. We shared similar experiences.
Of course we went through all of the resistance levels that are associated with living in a compound. We aren’t old enough, we are too active, we did not wish to live cheek and jowl. The houses are too small and everyone knows your business. Yet, in spite of our reservations and the reservations of family and friends, we began to research and visited more than a dozen different ‘villages’.
We quickly learned that the average age of residents increases by around seven years for every 10 years the village has been open. We also discovered the different ‘ownership’ models. After our research we visited a village in the middle stage of construction. We paid a deposit on the spot.
The process was a little like buying off the plan. Mostly, we were given a timeline that includes selling our existing premises and the usual progress payments during construction. We were able to amend the floor plan, select colours and finishes along with the appliances and so on. Luckily, we could stay on in the townhouse until the new place was ready. We actually upsized. Four bedrooms, triple car, large covered outdoor area etc.
That was four years ago and we are still happy that we made the move. There is always plenty to do. Nobody bothers us, privacy is regarded highly, there are no barking dogs, speed is restricted to 15km/h, the yard and the pool is maintained. There is access to recreational facilities and there are always plenty of functions and group activities when the mood is right. When we travel for long periods, our house is checked weekly. Everyone looks out for each other and there are no strangers to encounter when walking about. Our particular village adjoins a small commercial precinct, which means that we can shop and attend to our health and dining needs without driving if we so desire.
There have been a number of residents move out for various reasons. Some came with the wrong attitude, some had changes in family circumstances, but most have moved to other villages that meet their requirements better.
If anyone is considering village living, if you want it to work for you, it will. Doing your research will help ensure you are happy with the ownership details. We chose the long lease model where we own the right to lease for 99 years. We get any capital gains and there are no exit fees. Our in-going is higher and we pay a bit more in fees per week but the capital gains are considerable. No one in our village has sold at a loss. Most have seen gains of more than 5 per cent per annum.