Downsizing and community living

Doing downsizing right means making a move that improves your life. So your next home needs to be one that ticks a lot of boxes. A manageable home and one that feels good to live in is obviously the aim of the downsizing game. But there’s more to it than that. Keeping a sense of community is important for your quality of life, as is feeling physically able to enjoy it to the full.

Unfortunately for everyone (excluding the Bionic Man) aging brings with it physical issues that can limit what you’re capable of, now or down the track. That’s where choosing a vibrant and supportive community living arrangement might be your next step. But before you do, it’s important to understand what the financial implications of being part of an Owners Corporation or Lifestyle/ Retirement village might be.

Owners Corporations (formerly Body Corporates)

Owners Corporations are often, but not always, in place where you have a group of flats or apartments. The facilities on offer are generally limited to car spaces and maybe a pool or tennis court. Not specifically for retirees, such places are a great way to feel connected to other people at all ages and stages of life.

Being a part of an Owners Corporation means you will be obligated to pay fees and levies once you are part of the community. Meetings and by-laws are all part of the scene and disputes and issues can make the process fraught and pretty unfun. Make sure you are of a diplomatic disposition and like reading fine print before moving in!

Community living/retirement villages

Community living is a terrific way to keep your social life in full swing while removing some of the more onerous day-to-day tasks from your ‘To do’ list. Costs of entering a retirement village can be vastly different depending on the type of place you are considering, and this will often be a reflection of the amount of facilities and services on offer. Do some solid research on what communities appeal to you and draw up some lists of pros and cons.

Take your time over contracts and engage a lawyer to help you negotiate the legalese. Community and retirement living will incur costs at different stages including an upfront deposit followed by the purchase price and stamp duty (unless you are renting, not owning). Check out what extra fees and charges you will incur along the way as well as examining the exit or departure fees. If possible, chat to other residents in your chosen community before signing on the dotted line.

Deciding the right downsizing move for you is very personal and you need to take into account the way your life may change in the coming years. Make sure you plan ahead and take account of any pitfalls before committing to your next home. Take the time to read contracts and talk ideas through with trusted friends, family or financial planner to ensure you get to live the life you want to!