After working full-time since the age of 15, including two decades doing weekend and around-the-clock shift work, Geoff Ashton decided it was time for a change.
“I was doing shift work seven days a week, at any time of day or night. I was about to turn 65, and the shift work was getting very difficult,” Geoff said.
“What’s more, it was a pretty full-on job, and if something went wrong, it really went wrong.
“I was keen to start thinking about life outside of work.”
Benefits of moving into a residential land lease community
For Geoff, a crucial part of making the transition to retirement involved moving into a Hometown Australia residential land lease community at Port Stephens, in the NSW Lower Hunter region.
In January 2020, Geoff and wife Deb moved into Hometown’s Sunrise residential land lease community, after selling their townhouse in nearby Nelson Bay.
According to the couple, a key reason behind moving into Sunrise was that - unlike some retirement villages - it wasn’t strictly for retired people.
This allows them to live at Sunrise while carrying out their transition to retirement plan, which involves working for at least two more years.
Geoff has left his previous full-time job and is now working three days a week as a truck driver, while Deb works full-time in the disability care industry.
Their three-bedroom Seabreeze home at Sunrise is also a key part of the transition planning.
Compared to their former Nelson Bay townhouse, Geoff and Deb’s new home will provide more suitable accommodation as they get older. This is because it doesn’t have any internal stairs and is smaller and more manageable than the former townhouse.
It also includes a dedicated office space, allowing Deb to occasionally work from home.
Importantly, their new home also has a yard big enough for their two dogs, along with high-quality finishes and features including a covered outdoor entertaining area, walk-in wardrobes, stone kitchen benchtops and a double garage.
As Sunrise community residents, Geoff and Deb also have access to fantastic and relaxing communal facilities including two new swimming pools, tennis and pickleball courts and a clubhouse, bowling green, community bus, cinema and library.
“The whole reason we moved in here was so I could give up full-time work,” Geoff said.
“For anybody that has full-time employment in our age group and wants to switch to work part-time, I fully recommend moving into a community like this.
“In future years, we’re also hoping to do a bit of travel, and here at Sunrise we can park our camper in the hardstand area, which is another big advantage.”
More Australians than ever before transitioning to retirement
There are a number of major trends underway, which means more Australians than ever before are moving into Hometown Australia’s residential land lease communities, to allow them to either retire early, or to transition to retirement.
For instance, due to the COVID-19 economic impacts, around 102,000 Australians aged 50-64 and a further 54,000 aged over 65 fell out of employment between February and May 2020.
It’s predicted that a significant proportion of these people may have difficulty finding new work and may need to retire early.
Already some 21 per cent of Australians who retire are forced into this situation because of sickness or injury, and a further 11 per cent because they were retrenched.
What’s more, an increasing number of Australians in their 50s and 60s are also voluntarily moving from full-time to part-time work, as part of their retirement planning.
Between 2005 and 2020, the number of people working part-time in the 55-64 age group jumped by 74 per cent, and by 249 per cent in the 65 plus age group. This compares with a part-time work growth rate of 43 per cent across all age groups during the same period.
Many people in the above scenarios are - like Geoff and Deb - looking for the right sort of accommodation which helps meet their new circumstances.
Hometown land lease communities the perfect transition to retirement option
Hometown Australia operates just under 50 residential land lease communities containing around 10,000 residents across Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.
According to Hometown Australia joint managing director and chef operating officer Stuart Strong, an increasing number of people entering his company’s communities are in the pre-retirement or early retirement phase.
“The financial benefits of our residential land lease living model - along with the great lifestyle we offer - is very attractive to people in their 50s and 60s who are weighing up their retirement options,” Mr Strong said.
Mr Strong said that, more often than not, people moving into a Hometown Australia community were able to top-up their retirement income, as the price of homes was usually below the median house price in the surrounding area.
Mr Strong also said that residents in his communities didn’t have to pay stamp duty, nor council rates or exit fees, and retained their home’s capital gain.
“This means a person looking to retire early can do so without the significant incoming and outgoing costs which apply to other over 50s housing models,” he said.
Furthermore, once a Hometown Australia community resident reaches the pension age, or already claims a disability pension, it is possible they can also claim Commonwealth rental assistance (which is up to $139 a fortnight per couple).
This comes about because land lease living residents own their home and then secure a long-term lease on the land on which the home is located. (For instance, weekly site fees are around $175 a week at Sunrise).
Mr Strong also pointed out that Hometown Australia community homes are designed to allow people to work or study from home, and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
He said that the vast majority of new Hometown Australia community homes include multi-purpose rooms, which can be used as a study.
“Most communities also contain a range of features to keep residents active and fit, including pools and tennis courts,” Mr Strong said.
“If you are wondering if you can retire early, or have been forced to retire early, or want to ease your way into retirement, then think about our communities.
“People in the above scenarios might be pleasantly surprised to find that they can achieve a very happy housing and lifestyle solution, and find great new friends along the way.”
About Hometown Australia
To learn more about Hometown Australia and its 48 communities across Australia, go to www.hometownaustralia.com.au