13 May 2019

The movie Poms, which is currently showing in cinemas, tells the story of a group of female retirement village residents who rebel against the village’s management and form their own cheerleading troupe.

The story is based around Martha (played by Diane Keaton), who joins the mythical Sun Springs Retirement Community.

The community’s rules state that everyone must join a club. However, Martha and her new friend Sheryl (Jacki Weaver) are horrified by the club activities already on offer - namely shuffleboard, golf and bowling.

So, despite the community’s leadership being less than supportive, Martha organises for a group of village residents to form a cheerleading club and enter a cheerleading competition.

While the movie itself has had dreadful reviews, it has tapped into a growing trend among retirees to seek to carve out their own activities and interests, rather than conform with the traditional offerings.

On 11 May, 2019, as Poms hit cinemas across Australia, the Weekend Australian Financial Review brought us the story of retirees who want to establish their own villages based around their own lifelong pursuits.

It focused on the work of a group of motoring enthusiasts who are looking to establish a “hot rod” themed village at Castlemaine, in regional Victoria.

It also quotes Deborah Peppard, a Melbourne-based HR consultant who tried to establish her own retirement village for lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex people, and takes a look at an aviation-based community living alongside an airfield at Temora, NSW.

The story, however, makes it clear that creating your own retirement living community, centered around the aspirations and interests of community members, is no easy matter.

The “hot rod’ village has been in planning for ten years, and doesn’t appear to be imminent.

And while Ms Peppard found there was demand for her project, she was unable to compete with general apartment developers when it came to acquiring the necessary inner-city land.

What is clear, however, is that traditional retirement village developers recognise that residents are demanding new and additional services, and are reacting to this trend.

Last year’s Retirement Living Census, published by the Property Council of Australia, found that developers “are providing a wider variety of services to residents than ever before”.

It found that 97 per cent of new retirement village developments have at least five facilities or services available for residents. This compares to existing developments, of which only 83 per cent have at least five facilities or services.

“Modern retirees are seeking a more holistic solution, including easy access to health services on site and a range of recreational options,” said the Retirement Living Council’s Executive Director Ben Myers.

This trend means that facilities such as cinemas, men’s sheds, cafes, pools, hair salons, dog runs and gyms, along with services such as wi-fi and village buses, are becoming commonplace in new retirement villages around the country.

However, we have yet to come across any cheerleading clubs….as yet!

By Mark Skelsey, News Editor at Downsizing.com.au. Email Mark at news@downsizing.com.au