Retirement villages are a popular option for older Australians looking to enjoy their retirement years in a facility that gives them freedom, coupled with the benefits of community and security. But before you decide to move into a retirement village, however, you need to find out the answers to these essential questions.

At what age can I move into a retirement village?

Most retirement communities welcome residents aged 55 years or over, but this can vary between individual villages.

Can I still be working while living in a retirement village?

For most villages, the answer is yes – but it’s best to check first before deciding to move in.

Are visitors welcome to stay with me?

Friends and family are a big part of our lives, and are usually welcome to stay with you and make use of the village facilities while they’re there. But check your village’s policy, and also how long visitors are welcome to stay.

What kind of ownership model are you offering?

Financial models for retirement communities can include outright ownership, a loan licence model or a leasehold or sublease model; all of which require a different type of financial commitment. Find out which type your proposed village has on offer, and decide if that works for you.

What kind of homes are available?

Are the homes modern and equipped with all the latest facilities to make life easier as you age? (the homes at Alumuna are: have a look here: How much outside space comes with your home? How much choice do you get with your potential new home?

What fees will I need to pay?

Cost is a big consideration, and you’ll definitely need to know how much life in the retirement village will cost.

Typically you’ll need to pay:

  • Entry payment (a sum to secure the property for the desired time, and usually the biggest cost you’ll have to pay).
  • Ongoing services charges (regular fees to cover the ongoing costs of running and maintaining the facility).
  • Exit fees or deferred management fees (payable when you move out of the property).
  • Other fees (such as home deposits or waiting list fees).
  • Personal living costs (your usual day-to-day living costs for food, transport, entertainment, communication and technology etc.).

All required payments should be specified in your entry agreement contract, so make sure you understand them completely before signing the contract. Know exactly what they cover – and don’t cover – so there are no surprises later.

Can I bring my pet?

Not all retirement villages are pet friendly, but thankfully, many are. For many people, being able to bring their pet is a non-negotiable, so you’ll need to find this out early. If the facility does allow pets, find out about how many pets you’re allowed, any restrictions on the type of pet, and what rules your pet will have to follow once there.

Can I make changes to my home?

You’ll need to know just what changes and modifications you’re free to make to your home before moving in – or whether you’re limited in what you’re allowed to do.

What facilities are available?

Each retirement community comes with different and unique facilities, so find out what’s available before committing to a village. If a particular facility is important to you, make sure the village has it.

Are there any transport facilities on offer or nearby?

While you may have a car when you initially move in, it’s wise to consider the availability of public transport options. Your ability to drive may change as you get older, so nearby transport will really help you maintain your independence for longer.

Can I store my caravan here?

Travelling is one of the great bonuses of being retired, and if you own a caravan, you’ll need to make sure you can store it safely onsite at the retirement village.

What type of security is there?

Having inbuilt security is another big perk of retirement village living, but check exactly what level of security your potential facility offers. The village might come with gated entrances, secure parking, security cameras or security lighting. You may be more comfortable with a higher or lower level of security, both in your home and in the village as a whole, so examine this one closely.

The homes at Alumuna offer supreme security and safety features – check them out here:

What happens in an emergency?

Does your home come with emergency alarm or call button provisions? Is a smoke detector installed as standard? Find out the process that occurs if a medical or personal emergency or accident happens.

What happens if I need more support? Does the facility have the bandwidth to support you if your care needs change? Can you move to a higher level of care within the same community, or can home care services be arranged? Check what’s on offer so you can plan for the future.

What happens if I have an issue or problem?

Issues are often inevitable when you live in a community of diverse people. Find out what happens if an issue arises, and the process you’ll need to take to resolve it. Can I take a tour?

There’s only so much you can tell from online or brochure photos. Touring a retirement facility is the hands-down best way to get first-hand knowledge of the community and find out what life might really be like inside the village.

As well, you’ll have a chance to ask as many questions as you like, speak to current residents, inspect properties and facilities in person and explore the community as a whole. This will help you make an informed decision about whether this is somewhere you want to spend those all-important retirement years.