Finding the right retirement living option for you

Mar 07, 2023
Choosing the right retirement living option can seem overwhelming, but with careful consideration and research, you can find the perfect fit for your needs. Source: Getty Images.

There comes a time in your life where you face the important decision of where to settle down in your retirement years and beyond.

Will you age in place or relocate to a retirement community? The range of retirement living choices available in Australia is extensive.

Each option has its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages, and it’s vital to understand what each offers to make the right decision that best suits you.

Ageing in place 

An increasing number of retirees are opting to stay in the familiar and comfortable surroundings of their own homes for a longer period of time during their later years.

Ageing in place, as it is commonly known, is a popular option for many seniors who want to maintain their independence, control, and dignity as they age.

Pros:

  • Maintain social connections.
  • Remain in a familiar environment, surrounded by possessions and memories.
  • Maintains independence and control over daily lives.
  • Financial security for those who own their home.

Cons:

  • The family home may not be suitable for you as you age, with stairs and large gardens potentially presenting a challenge in older age.
  • The cost of maintaining a large family home may become increasingly difficult for those on a fixed income to manage.
  • The family home may not be located in an area that offers the amenities and services you need as you age, such as medical centres and shops close by.

Considerations:

  • Retirees need to assess whether their current home is suitable for them as they age, including accessibility and maintenance costs.
  • Retirees may want to consider hiring home care services to assist with tasks that become more difficult as they age.
  • Retirees may want to look into downsizing to a smaller home or unit that is more suitable for their needs.
Source: Getty Images.

Downsizing to a smaller unit

Downsizing to a smaller unit is another popular option for those who want to maintain their independence but no longer have the need for a large home.

This option allows you to live in a smaller space, which is often more low-maintenance than a larger home.

Pros:

  • Smaller homes can significantly reduce the time, effort, and expense required to maintain a property.
  • Financially advantageous, with the potential to free up equity to fund retirement or leave to beneficiaries.
  • Presents an opportunity to move to an area with better amenities and services for retirees.

Cons:

  • Parting with possessions and memories, which can be difficult emotionally.
  • Can be a significant change, requiring adjustment to a new living space and potentially a new community.
  • The cost of purchasing a smaller unit may be expensive, particularly in highly sought-after locations.

Considerations:

  • Retirees need to assess their living requirements to ensure a smaller unit is suitable for their needs, particularly in terms of accessibility.
  • The location of their new unit is another important consideration as it is crucial to ensure it is close to the amenities and services that retirees may require.
  • Retirees may need to consider the cost of purchasing a smaller unit and the impact on their retirement finances.
Source: Getty Images.

Granny flats

Granny flats are self-contained units that are built on the same property as the family home, designed to be an independent living option for you while still allowing you to be close to your family.

This option is a great solution for retirees who might require assistance with day-to-day activities.

Pros:

  • Maintaining social relationships with friends and family.
  • Can be a cost-effective option, particularly if family members provide support with day-to-day tasks.
  • Granny flats can be designed to meet your individual needs, including accessibility and mobility requirements.

Cons:

  • The cost of building a granny flat can be significant, particularly if specialist accessibility features are required.
  • The living space may be smaller than you’re used to, potentially requiring significant downsizing.
  • Potential feeling of a lack of independence from living on a property owned by family members.

Considerations:

  • Retirees need to ensure their family members are supportive of the decision to build a granny flat and are willing to provide any necessary assistance.
  • It’s important to assess the costs associated with building a granny flat and the impact on their retirement finances.
  • Retirees may want to consider the accessibility features required in the granny flat to ensure it is suitable for their needs as they age.
Source: Getty Images.

Lifestyle communities/ land lease communities

Lifestyle communities, also known as land lease communities, offer you the opportunity to own your own home while leasing the land it sits on.

Lifestyle communities are a great option, allowing you to downsize without sacrificing your quality of life.

Pros:

  • A more affordable option, as you avoid the upfront costs associated with purchasing property and can instead invest in your retirement lifestyle.
  • Social activities, events, and clubs are provided, giving opportunities to make new friends and enjoy an active social life.
  • Designed to be low maintenance, with garden maintenance, security, and other services typically included in the lease agreement.

Cons:

  • While you own your own home, you do not own the land it sits on, meaning you may have limited control over the land and may be subject to rules and regulations imposed by the community owner.
  • There are ongoing fees for the lease of the land, as well as for any services or amenities provided by the community.
  • Potential for difficulty selling the home in the lifestyle community, particularly if the community has a limited market or attracts a negative reputation.

Considerations:

  • Retirees should carefully consider the rules and regulations imposed by the community owner before committing to a lifestyle community. These rules can cover a range of areas, including pets, visitors, and noise restrictions.
  • It’s important to carefully assess the ongoing fees associated with living in a lifestyle community. These fees can include land lease fees, maintenance fees, and community fees, and can vary significantly depending on the community.
  • Retirees should consider the location of the lifestyle community and whether it provides access to the amenities and services they require. They should also consider the community’s proximity to family and friends, medical facilities, and public transport.
Source: Getty Images.

Retirement villages

Retirement villages are communities specifically designed for retirees, offering a range of accommodation options, including independent living units, serviced apartments, and residential care.

Pros:

  • A supportive community environment, with staff and other residents on hand to provide assistance when needed.
  • Often include dining facilities, communal areas, and leisure activities, providing you with a range of options for staying active and social.
  • Some retirement villages offer health care services, including on-site medical facilities and access to health care professionals.

Cons:

  • Can be expensive, with ongoing fees required for the lease of the property, as well as for any services and amenities provided by the village.
  • Limited control over the property which may be subject to rules and regulations imposed by the village owner.
  • Properties can be difficult to sell, particularly if the village has a limited market.

Considerations:

  • Retirees should carefully assess the ongoing fees associated with living in a retirement village, including lease fees, maintenance fees, and community fees.
  • Health care options available in the retirement village also need to be taken into consideration, including on-site medical facilities
Source: Getty Images.

Aged care

Aged care is a great option for those who require assistance with day-to-day activities and may no longer be able to live independently, and can be provided in the home or in a residential care facility.

Residential care facilities provide 24-hour care and support for residents, including assistance with daily tasks, medical care, and social activities.

Pros:

  • Aged care facilities provide professional care services, including medical care, nursing care, personal care, and social support.
  • The facilities provide a safe and secure environment for elderly residents, with staff on hand 24/7 to provide assistance when needed.
  • Provides residents with opportunities to interact with others and maintain social connections.

Cons:

  • Moving into an aged care facility can be a difficult adjustment for many people, as it can feel like you’re giving up your independence and control over your lives.
  • Can be expensive, with fees for accommodation, meals, and care services. The cost of aged care can vary significantly depending on the level of care required and the facility’s location.
  • Aged care facilities can be limited in their choice of accommodation.

Considerations:

  • Retirees should carefully consider their level of care needs before choosing an aged care facility. Some facilities specialise in high-level care for those with complex health care needs, while others provide low-level care for those who require minimal assistance.
  • Whether the location of the aged care facility is close to family and friends, medical facilities, and other amenities is something else to consider.
  • Researching the aged care facility is another important consideration, particularly the quality of care on offer. This can include looking at reviews and speaking to current residents and their families.

Choosing the right retirement living option can seem overwhelming, but with careful consideration and research, you can find the perfect fit for you. It’s important to think about your current and future needs, budget, location, and social opportunities when making this decision.

Whether you choose to age in place, move to an active adult community, or opt for assisted living, there are plenty of options available to ensure that you enjoy a fulfilling and comfortable retirement.

Remember, this is your time to relax and enjoy life, so take your time and make the choice that feels right for you.

 

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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