Five top tips for planning your future

We asked the expert, Rachel Lane, co-author of Aged Care Who Cares? with Noel Whittaker, for her insights and advice she gives to anyone thinking about making the move to unlocking their home.

Rachel’s tips include:

  • Find a community that suits you
  • Understand the contract
  • Do your sums
  • Have a budget
  • Seek advice

Find a community that suits you

Over 55s communities, just like people, come in all different shapes and sizes. A big part of your enjoyment in a new community will be time spent with other residents – to quote a great Australian movie, “it’s the vibe”. Do your research on accommodation, facilities and the legal and financial arrangements, but be sure to look beyond these.

Understand your contract

Your legal ownership has wide-reaching implications. It’s important to know your rights and how the agreement will impact your pension, eligibility of rent assistance and other financial matters. Retirement villages are governed by the Retirement Villages Act in the relevant state or territory while lifestyle communities can be governed by the Residential Land Lease Communities Act, the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act or the Residential Tenancies Act.

Do your sums

The costs of moving in and out of an over 55s community vary widely. It can help to break the costs into three categories: the ongoing, the ongoing and the outgoing.

In some communities, there are different payment options to consider and one may suit you better than another. The type of community you live in or the amount you pay for ou home will determine whether you are a homeowner or not for pension purposes, as well as your eligibility for rent assistance.

Have a budget

Make sure your budget incorporates the costs associated with living in the community such as the general service charge or site fees together with your personal expenses such as utilities, food and entertainment. If you are going to receive extra services such as meals, domestic help or care make sure you include these on top of the other charges and then add occasional expenses such as holidays and Christmas so you know you can afford it.

Seek advice

Crunching all the numbers can be complicated. A financial adviser who specialises in this area can help you get it right.