Retirement is the beginning of what some people consider the best years of your life, and you’re no doubt looking forward to being able to spend that time exactly as you choose. For many people, retirement equates to a move to a retirement village – an extremely popular choice for many Australians.

Moving to a retirement village is a big decision, both financially and in terms of your lifestyle. When considering retirement options, it’s a very good idea to understand the do’s and don’ts of retirement villages. Here are some of the most important.

The Do’s

DO understand the fee structure

The financial models and fee structure for retirement villages in Australia can vary widely, and can be complicated to understand for the uninitiated.

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.

As well, payment structures can also vary widely between different communities. You’ll need to know what entry fees, recurring payments and ongoing fees you’ll need to pay, as well as any extras. Clarify exactly how much, how often and when you’ll have to pay these costs, as not understanding the fee structure can be dangerous. It’s important to fully understand your financial obligations before signing any contract.

DO check your exit options

Don’t be caught out by not knowing your financial obligations upon exiting the village. Most will have an exit fee that you’ll need to pay when you leave, and perhaps other conditions that you’ll need to fulfill as well. Make sure you understand the terms of your exit before signing your contract.

DO make peace with the rules

While retirement villages don’t attempt to restrict your freedom significantly (after all, it’s your house), they do all come with their own terms and conditions regarding certain things you can and can’t do. Before you commit to a retirement village, request a copy of the rules, terms and conditions, and make sure you can abide by them before you decide to move in. If they are too limiting, and you don’t think you can abide by the required rules, you’ll need to consider other options.

DO visit the retirement village before you commit

Seeing a village online or in photos, and seeing it in person are two entirely different things. Wherever possible, make it a point to visit in person each retirement community you are considering, so you can assess the atmosphere and condition of your potential new home. If it’s an area new to you, you can also get a feel for the location and whether it might be somewhere you’d like to live.

DO come with a list of questions

When visiting retirement villages, come prepared with a list of questions you need answered – and note down the answers to ensure you don’t forget them. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the excitement of visiting, and forget about some of the essentials you really need to know to make the best decision.

DO make sure it suits your lifestyle

It doesn’t matter how attractive the location is or how well-maintained the houses are if the village doesn’t actually work for your lifestyle. A retirement village set in a quite country location probably won’t work for you if you need plenty of activity, excitement and social events. Likewise, a village that bans pets is definitely out if you can’t be parted from Boots or Fido. And if you’re keen on socialising with other residents, a village with a limited activity program and no common areas may not be the best choice.

Choose a retirement village that suits your personality and intended retirement lifestyle so that you’ll have the best chance of enjoying your hard-earned retirement years.

What’s the best thing about community retirement living? Find out here

DO check the proximity of transport, shopping centres and community amenities

Even if you currently own a car, you may need to give up driving at some point in the future, so it’s wise to check what community facilities are nearby or easily accessible via public transport.

The Don’ts

DON’T rush your decision

The last thing you want is to rush the decision and then be stuck in a facility that doesn’t really meet your needs or suit your lifestyle. It’s important to check everything thoroughly and not make a hasty choice. Get all your questions answered and make sure the village really is a good match for you before committing.

Having said that however –

DON’T leave it till the last minute

While you don’t want to rush your decision, you also don’t want to leave it until the last minute to choose a retirement village and get the process started. The whole process takes some time, so allow yourself some breathing room and get started earlier than you think you need to.

DON’T break the rules

The rules in retirement communities are there for a reason, so do everything you can to stay within them. This shouldn’t be a problem if you thoroughly examined the rules before committing to the village.

For a fresh and exciting take on retirement village living, have a look at Alumuna (located in picturesque Finley in the Riverina region of NSW) here:

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