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Deciding on a retirement living arrangement is a significant life choice, offering various options for ownership and leasing that cater to diverse needs and preferences. Retirement villages present an opportunity for individuals over 55 to find a residence that aligns with their lifestyle, providing amenities and services designed to enhance their quality of life.

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What is Retirement Village Living?

A retirement village is a residential complex mainly occupied by people aged over 55, which is sometimes why it is referred to as over 55’s living. Most people that decide to go into a village is for the purpose of downsizing and reducing the gardening and maintenance their current home requires. Generally, the village operators are responsible for maintenance and repairs of the community areas which takes a lot of pressure off the residents, allowing them to still enjoy life with less responsibility.

How Do I Own The Villa/Unit?

There are many different ways of owning/leasing a unit in a retirement village, so it is important to have a conveyancer or solicitor look over your documents and explain the terms and conditions of your new premises together with the rules for living in the village.

When it comes time for you to start inspecting or researching retirement villages, it is important to establish what arrangement the village has in relation to ownership or non-ownership of the premises.


This is where the village operator owns all of the units in the complex and you as a resident, sign a Lease, usually for a term of 99 years and it would then be registered with the NSW Land Registry Services.

Loan or Licence Agreement

A loan agreement or licence agreement. A Loan agreement is, in very simple terms, you are loaning the village money which for the purpose of the Retirement Village Laws is your ongoing contribution/entry fee. The interest-free loan is made to the village and is repaid to you when you vacate after payment of the departure fees have been deducted. A Licence Agreement is a less formal agreement between the village and the resident in relation to the occupation of the premises.

Company Title

In this case, which is quite rare, the complex/village is owned by a company, and you would purchase shares in that company at market value which gives you the right to occupy the Unit. In this case, the Board of Directors manage the operations and decisions in relation to the complex.


Not as many Villages offer this option but is generally very similar to a private residential rental where you pay an upfront bond, weekly rental fee and water usage.

Strata or Community Title

If the property is Strata Title or Community Title, you will pay a purchase price to own the Unit (as opposed to leasing). You would still be paying monthly charges to cover the running costs of the village. Unlike company title, you can become a member of the strata or community corporation.

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What Should You Look At When Looking For A Retirement Village?

Costs and Charges

The upfront cost of moving into the Village is usually referred to as an ongoing contribution or an entry fee.

Recurrent charges are paid monthly and cover the costs involved with the day-to-day running and ongoing costs of operating the village. The Village operator will inform you of what amount the recurring fees are, and the agreement/lease will refer to an increase in the fees and when they will be. It is important to know that you will be able to afford to live in the village comfortably when the recurrent charges increase.

It is important to check what the departure (exit) fees are when it comes time to vacate as these are calculated differently. They can be calculated based on the period of time you have been in the Unit or/and what the new entry fee is (the price that the person after you will pay).

Whether you pay electricity, gas, water, phone, internet etc. supplied to your premises.

Facilities, Services & other things to determine

Is the unit self-contained or serviced? This will depend on whether you still wish to maintain your independence or whether you require assistance. It is also wise to check and see whether the village offers higher care options in the event that your needs and abilities change.

What services and facilities are provided at the Village, and do they suit your needs, as these are the items that are usually covered in your recurrent fees? Work out what is important to you, whether it be a swimming pool, dining room, village bus, gym or it be as simple as arts and crafts in the community centre. Some villages arrange for pharmacy prescriptions to be delivered, some have a hairdresser or podiatrist visit the village on certain days. These are known as optional services that the village makes available to the residents and would usually be charged on a ‘user pays’ basis.

In the event the facilities you require are not in the village, are they nearby?

What is included in your premises? Some Units in villages have an emergency call system/ button, is there a garage, a carport, a courtyard, your own garden, and are there any other inclusions like a microwave or washing machine?

Whether you can alter or renovate your premises and when it comes time to vacate, whether you will be required to remove items that you have added in order to have the premises returned back to the condition it was when you first occupied the premises, or do they stay for the next resident?

What items are required to be maintained and repaired by you and what the village is responsible for?

Whether the village will allow you to have a visitor stay overnight or for an extended period of time. This is not usually an issue, as long as you let the village operator know.

What insurance does the village cover and what you are responsible for?

Such a popular one that our clients ask, can they take their pet/s to the village with them? This will be specified in the documents issued by the Village’s Solicitor. In most cases you would need to complete a pet register form and seek approval, however, a cat, a small dog or a bird are generally not refused, provided they are inside animals and will not be roaming the village. There may be some villages that do not allow pets at all so if you wish to take your fur babies with you, be sure to ask the question.

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Meet Adriana, The Managing Partner at Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers, and the head of our esteemed Property and Commercial Law teams. With over twenty years of expertise, Adriana’s profound experience has fostered unwavering trust among her clients and solidified her esteemed standing within the Macarthur community. Her stature as an authority in Property and Commercial law is well-established.

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Retirement Villages FAQ’s

A retirement village is a residential complex primarily for people aged over 55 who are looking to downsize and enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle. People choose retirement villages to reduce the responsibilities of homeownership and to access a range of on-site facilities and services.

Retirement village ownership models can vary, including leasehold, loan or licence agreements, company title, rental agreements, and strata or community title. A conveyancer or solicitor can help you understand the specific terms and conditions associated with your chosen premises.

It’s important to understand the upfront costs, such as the ongoing contribution or entry fee, as well as recurrent charges for ongoing village expenses. You should also inquire about departure (exit) fees and how they are calculated. Clarify whether utilities like electricity, gas, water, phone, and internet are included.

Retirement villages often provide various amenities like swimming pools, dining rooms, community buses, gyms, arts and crafts centres, and optional services like pharmacy deliveries or visiting healthcare professionals. Consider what services and facilities are essential for your needs.

Whether you can bring your pet varies by village, and you may need to seek approval and complete a pet register form. Generally, cats, small dogs, and birds are accepted as long as they remain indoors. It’s crucial to ask about the pet policy when considering a retirement village.

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