Considering a lifestyle community

Considering a lifestyle community? Industry expert answers most common questions

Dec 15, 2022
Unlike retirement communities, lifestyle communities generally attract a younger, more active and independent homeowner. Image source: Supplied

Whether you’re nearing retirement or are already in it, planning for the golden years ahead is an exciting time filled with opportunities and change. Downsizing or making the move into a retirement community is one of the changes you may make to free up some capital and lighten the home maintenance load as you enter the next stage of your life. And even though moving out of your family home can trigger a range of emotions at first, it also gives you the chance to seek out that seachange or treechange you’ve always been dreaming of.

Imagine starting your day with a walk on the beach, a dip in the pool or working up a sweat in a state-of-the-art gym – and better yet, all these facilities are just a short walk from your front door. You can then pop by your neighbour’s house for a morning cuppa followed by an afternoon filled with social activities that range from happy hour to a friendly game of lawn bowls. Whatever you’d like to do – the choice is yours.

This is the type of lifestyle you could be enjoying in a lifestyle community, also known as a land lease community. Lifestyle communities, such as Ingenia Lifestyle, are an increasingly popular choice for many over 55s across Australia due to the financial freedom that comes with it along with the opportunity to curate your ideal retirement lifestyle.

To get a better understanding of how lifestyle communities work and to see if they would be the right move for you, the team at Starts at 60 spoke to Kate Melrose, one of Ingenia Lifestyle’s General Managers, to answer some of the biggest questions people have about lifestyle communities.

What age do people move into lifestyle communities?

Unlike retirement communities, lifestyle communities generally attract a younger, more active and independent homeowner. Subject to state, there is typically a minimum entry age of either 50 or 55 years, however the average entry age of homeowners in Ingenia’s communities is generally in their late sixties.

Do you have to be retired to live in a lifestyle community?

There is a common misconception that you must be fully retired to live in a lifestyle community. This is not true.

“You certainly don’t have to be retired. As long as you meet any entry age requirements, you can take advantage of the lifestyle opportunities that come with living in a lifestyle community,” says Kate.

Many people are still working in paid or unpaid work and live a very fulfilling life.

“Maintaining a focus, passion, hobby or purpose is a key to a long and happy life.  We find many people living in Ingenia communities have the opportunity and time to develop old skills or build exciting new interests whilst being actively engaged in their community.”

Do I own my own home?

Absolutely. Lifestyle communities operate under a land lease model, which means you own your home and lease the land on which the home sits. This will allow you to pocket extra savings from not paying fees such as stamp duty.

Kate explains that in a lifestyle community, you have security of tenure, own your own home and can live in a brand-new architecturally designed house with premium facilities and amenities.

“In many of our communities, you are able to choose your internal and external colour scheme and upgrade options if you purchase early off the plan” adds Kate.

It’s just one of the many reasons lifestyle communities have become so popular.

What attracts most buyers to a lifestyle community?

“Laughter, fun, friendship, simplicity and flexibility” – those are the five key pillars that make living in a lifestyle community so attractive, Kate says.

The first three aspects come from the fact that you are surrounded by neighbours who are at a similar life stage to you. This makes it easier to meet new people, make new friends and expand your social circle. As for simplicity and flexibility, this comes from the way that lifestyle communities operate under the land lease model.

“We have transparent contracts with no hidden entry fees or exit fees. All that’s payable when you move into a lifestyle community is the cost of your home and your weekly land rent, which also covers things like building insurance and council rates,” explains Kate.

“And if you qualify for any part of the pension, then you will enjoy the added benefit that Commonwealth Rent Assistance will contribute to your rent, making it even more affordable.”

What are the homes like in a lifestyle community?

This varies depending on your operator and location. You can choose from newly built homes or pre-loved ones.

Kate explains that at Ingenia, you can choose from 2 and 3 bedrooms homes, with the option of an additional study. All homes have a garage for one or two cars, plus additional visitor parking throughout the community. Some communities also provide caravan or boat storage either on site or nearby.

“Many of our homes have butlers’ pantries, generous storage and large alfresco entertaining areas. They are thoughtfully designed with light, bright living spaces perfect for easy entertaining or relaxing,” says Kate.

What happens if I want to sell my home?

“It’s your home so you have no restrictions upon how or when you sell it,” explains Kate.

“Many of our communities have a waitlist of people waiting to buy an established home, but you are free to choose any real estate agent to sell your home, unlike many retirement communities where you’re required to sell through the operator.”

Other important considerations to be had

To get a deeper understanding of the other important factors and considerations to be had when considering a lifestyle community, download the free e-guide put together by Starts at 60 in partnership with Ingenia: ‘The ultimate guide to lifestyle communities’. This free e-guide is packed with critical information and easy-to-complete exercises to help you better understand and consider living in a lifestyle community.

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