It can sound like a contradiction to suggest that you don't live in a retirement village as you would live in another type of dwelling. Physically, of course you will live just as you would in any other place. Legally, it can be a different story. When you decide to move to a retirement village, your residency in the property can differ from a traditional type of occupation—namely when you own or rent a home. It's very important to be aware of the different types of occupation that can be available when you are considering relocating to a retirement village: Different forms of occupation can be available even within the same complex, so it's vital to find the best option for your needs, while also taking steps to be aware of any other possible eventualities that might affect your residency.
Purchasing a Unit Within a Retirement Village
This option is the most comparable to actual home ownership, and you would be purchasing the unit in the same way that you would purchase an apartment or flat in an existing complex. It's a strata management system, so in addition to the cost of the unit, you would also be liable for any applicable strata management fees. While this adds to the ongoing costs associated with the unit, it also gives you membership of the body corporate association, and as such, a say in the running of the complex.
A Licence Agreement
This is the most straightforward means of living in a retirement village, but it also gives you the least say. The developer of the retirement village will remain the owner of your unit, but you have signed a licence agreement which legally permits you to reside in the unit. The fee for this will vary greatly depending on the retirement village, and it can be a lump sum payment or an ongoing contribution. If you decide to leave the retirement village before the licence agreement expires, you might be entitled to a refund of a certain percentage of fees that have already been paid. This should be clear before signing any agreement.
A lease is similar to a licence agreement although it's usually for a stipulated amount of time, as opposed to the general "ongoing" nature of a licence agreement. Unlike a licence agreement (which is usually more all-encompassing), a lease might also require a separate service agreement to be signed, which covers the services provided by the retirement village and is separate from your occupancy of the unit.
Even though your occupancy of the unit can be different to purchasing and then living in a home, you still need to be well aware of certain aspects of your occupancy. The terms of a lease or license agreement can vary greatly from state-to-state. You need to be well aware of your rights and obligations, as well as being fully aware of all ongoing costs and any entitlements (or penalties) should you choose to leave the retirement village. This is why your potential agreement with the retirement village should be examined by a conveyancing solicitor with experience in retirement living. In addition to clearly stipulating the pros and cons associated with your prospective retirement village, the solicitor can also prepare the necessary paperwork should you opt to proceed. It's essentially an added form of scrutiny that allows you to make a well-informed decision.
Moving into a retirement village isn't always as simple as just moving in. It's wise to be fully aware of all your options.