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Busting common myths about retirement villages

Last Updated at August 20th 2021
The joys of living in a retirement village is becoming more well-known among older Australians, as they decide to take the plunge and experience a fun, new lifestyle in a retirement village.

Key points:

  • Retirement villages are marketed towards seniors looking for a lifestyle change

  • You don't have to be completely retired to move into a retirement village

  • Retirement villages are not aged care facilities, they don't provide any care services

Couple relaxing in their retirement village pool
Retirement villages are about fun, activities and community, but are usually thought of as a type of aged care facility. [Source: Shutterstock]

Retirement communities are a little shut away from the outside world, so people can easily develop an idea of what it must be like inside the village.

However, retirement villages are just a strong community of like-minded individuals who want to live safely and comfortably surrounded by people in similar stages of life.

Because there are so many perceptions around what retirement villages are like, it has caused a bunch of misconceptions to develop. Below we debunk five common myths about retirement villages.

Myth 1: Villages are for old people who need care

Did you know you can enter a retirement village once you turn 55? People in retirement villages vary in age, anywhere from 55 up to their 80s.

Retirement villages are not aged care facilities, where you can receive care around the clock. A retirement village is a community of individuals who want to live in a safe neighbourhood, remain independent, and get involved in their community.

While some retirement villages may have co-located aged care facilities or provide services to help you at home, these villages generally only provide a new lifestyle that encourages socialisation and independence.

Many people who move into villages wish they moved sooner, as they make strong connections and friends with people within the community and are able to join a variety of clubs and groups to keep themselves occupied.

Myth 2: I won't have any privacy and will be forced to be social all the time

The great thing about retirement villages is that they foster independence and how you decide to use your time is up to you.

Most retirement villages will have a strong community and social inclusivity commitment, however, you get to decide how much time and effort you put into meeting others in your village.

There will be clubs, activities, social gatherings and other events that you will likely be able to participate in, but always on your terms.

If you want to be a social butterfly and make lots of new friends, then you can. But for people who prefer peace, quiet, and the comfort of slow days, then your own home is your retreat from your village community - just as it would be if you were living in any town or city.

Villages differ from each other considerably, for instance, some villages are only a couple of units while others have hundreds of houses, and there has been a recent rise in 'vertical villages'. It is up to you to choose a community you would prefer to live in.

Choosing a village that suits your lifestyle needs can also be a really important consideration when you decide to move into a retirement village.

Myth 3: I have to be fully retired to be able to move into a village

A retirement village is called that for a reason, to relax during retirement - but that doesn't mean you can't work still! In fact, a large number of people who live in retirement communities still work in full-time or part-time jobs.

It is understandable that you would assume that retirement villages are only for retired people, however, for many, retiring straight away may not be financially possible. Additionally, you may not want to give up your career and want to continue working.

Your retirement village is not monitoring your job, it is only providing you a new retirement lifestyle and place to live.

If you decide you want to continue working AND live a relaxed retiree lifestyle, then that is absolutely within your rights. 

Besides, most people at retirement villages put a lot of their time and effort into volunteering, similarly, you shouldn't have to give up your family business or a career you love.

Myth 4: Moving into a retirement village is expensive

While it can be expensive to buy into a retirement village, it would be no different to buying a new house - and in many cases can be less expensive.

If you decided to downsize and move into a retirement village, then you are likely to be selling your house anyway. The money you make from selling your home will be able to cover most, all or part of the cost of your home in a village.

Or if you don't want to buy a place outright, some retirement villages have homes or apartments that you are able to rent.

You do need to be aware that there are costs and fees associated with living in a retirement village, for example, maintenance costs or amenity fees. These costs go towards the amenities, activities, and facilities at the village, which were likely reasons you choose that village in the first place.

The cost of a home in a retirement village differs from place to place, so you should shop around and visit different villages to find the right place for you.

Additionally, most villages will be able to cater for people who are living on the Age Pension and wish to move into a retirement community. 

Read more about the cost of retirement villages on the Aged Care Guide.

Myth 5: I won't be able to live life as I did before

It is common for people to believe that they will lose their independence if they enter a retirement village. 

All retirement villages are just a grouping of people that have decided to live in a specific place with a specific lifestyle - it is not too different from normal neighbourhoods. 

Many people move into retirement villages for an increased sense of security, which is a big advantage of moving into villages. Some villages are gated, have security guards, or require approval to enter.

Retirement villages are commonly mistaken for aged care facilities, but they usually don't provide aged care services.

Retirement villages shouldn't be mistaken with nursing homes, they provide different experiences and services, and you will be very disappointed if you were expecting care and support to be provided in your new retirement home.

You are free to leave your retirement village whenever you wish - to go on holidays and visit family. Plus you can move out of a village whenever you wish if you decide it isn't working for you.

Retirement villages aim to locate themselves close to amenities and provide multiple facilities in one place. Villages can encourage your independence by making living life simpler and funner.

What myths do you want debunked about retirement villages? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Finding the right retirement village for you
Life in a retirement village
Downsizing and moving into a retirement village

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