Downsizing is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a more streamlined lifestyle and free up time for travel and leisure. If it’s the next thing on your list, you have some decisions to make. Do you want to move into a smaller apartment, or an over-55s community? Or do you want to move straight into a retirement village?
The benefits of apartment living
Apartment living can be wonderful for downsizers. You can live in the heart of the city, for example, and enjoy facilities such as barbecue areas, a pool, a gym and outdoor spaces, all maintained by someone else.
It goes without saying that you need to choose carefully. Buying off the plan can be a risky move as you can’t physically walk through the apartment to get a sense of how it feels. For this reason, buying one that has been occupied for a few years at least is a safer bet, even if you have to make a few cosmetic updates.
The downside of a private apartment is generally the cost. There’s your initial investment, which can be steep, as well as ongoing strata fees. City apartments, particularly ones built by private developers in capital cities, can easily cost a million dollars and more so for many of us they simply aren’t an option. There is also limited support, and depending on the complex, you may not see much of your neighbours.
Another issue with a private apartment is that it can feel a little isolated.Having social connections is vital for healthy ageing, and so for many people, a private apartment or home is too lonely once they are no longer working. Here are some other options.
Over 55s apartments
Over 55s apartments are generally less expensive than private ones. They are designed for safe, comfortable living for older people, and you will find like-minded neighbours along with shared gardens and other facilities. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that you may need to make another move later on should you require more support. One of the significant benefits of a property specifically designed for over-55 buyers is that you will be living with people who share the same priorities and lifestyle as you do.
Land lease communities
Land lease communities are also designed specifically for older people. Here, you own the house, but not the land that it sits on. As with retirement villages, there are generally shared facilities such as pools and gardens that are maintained for the community to enjoy, and you will pay a monthly fee to cover your share of running costs.
Retirement villages don’t follow the normal real estate market and are accessible at a lower price point. They also offer different purchasing options. Some work on the basis of a long-term lease where you lease the apartment and then sell it back to the community when you leave. Others have a freehold arrangement where you own the property and, as for leased properties, sell it back to the village.
You will pay ongoing fees for maintenance and security but you will know in advance what you can expect, and generally fees cannot be hiked without warning. If you opt for a non-profit retirement village, the providers obviously cannot make a profit on your fees, and all funds have to be put towards the running of the property.
Unlike private apartments, retirement villages are set up specifically to support older people, with additional facilities such as a pool, serviced barbecues and a courtesy bus so you can give up your car but still get around, and so on. If you are reasonably mobile and don’t need additional support, a retirement village is a great option.
As with any move, it pays to do your research and work out what you can afford and what matters the most to you – to stay in one place, to be close to family and friends, or to have access to facilities and public transport. Once you have a list of your priorities, you can start looking for your next home.
Want to learn more about making the most of your next 30 years?
Retirement living can be the best time of your life.
We’re committed to making life better for the over 55s. Check out downsizing.com.au for more insights and great advice on living life to the fullest. We have a great range of properties for the over 55s to help you do that with like-minded people in land lease communities and retirement villages.