Retirement Village Living – What to look out for

While village living is not for everyone, research shows that, while living in a Retirement Village most people enjoy a high level of satisfaction. If village life is an option you are considering, then there are some things you need to know so that your experience can be positive too.

The Retirement Villages Survey 2006 undertaken by the Commission for Financial Capability (previously the Retirement Commission) showed a large percentage of residents were very happy with their experience of retirement village life. Retirement/Lifestyle Villages appeal to people for a number of reasons. A village can offer you a number of benefits, such as:

  • an improved social life with a new network of friends,
  • access to planned activities and community resources,
  • increased peace of mind (some villages offer internal call bells and on site security),
  • difficult jobs like lawn mowing and exterior painting/maintenance are usually taken care of,
  • access to prime locations (depending on their situation e.g. beachside, adjacent to golf course, riverside, hill ridge etc.),
  • proximity to town centers or services (depending on their situation),
  • reassurance for your family and friends (knowing that someone else is nearby to assist you if the need arises).

They may have associated onsite residential care services or they may be of the variety that includes multiple resources such as a golf course and/or swimming pool, shops, restaurants and other services; to the extent that they seem like a small town. Not all villages however are like this. Some are quite small. In fact the range of Retirement/Lifestyle Villages is almost as varied as the lifestyles represented in this target population.

Village residents say the benefits of a Village are numerous, and will be different depending on your personal need; these may include giving you peace of mind, new and varied activities and interest, new friendships and a feeling of being free to do the things you enjoy and not having to worry about home maintenance and other ‘chores’

Things to think about

Most people are quite independent when they move into a Village. You can expect village management to regard and treat you as such. But circumstances may change and as a result you may want some assistance. For example, you may want village staff to check on you from time to time or you my need some practical support or personal care to enable you to stay in your home. Depending on your contract and whether the relevant services are available you may be able to continue living in your unit, even if you require quite a lot of support. Home based support services may be delivered by the village or by an external provider. Some village also offer Serviced Apartments where a range of services can be purchased from the village operator.

There are a lot of things to consider before moving into a retirement village. Download this handy checklist to make sure you have asked all the appropriate questions so you know you are making a positive decision here on Eldernet.

The legal side of things

Before you get your heart set on any particular village or unit it is a good idea to examine all the legal and financial arrangements of each of the villages you consider, as they all vary.

Although we use the terms ‘buy and purchase’, as there is an exchange of capital sum (capital contribution), you are usually only paying for the right to live in the village; the terms and conditions of which are explained in an Occupation Right Agreement (ORA) a legally binding agreement that must be given to intending residents. If you intend to ‘purchase’, the village operator will supply you with other documents too. Read and understand these; each contains essential information.

  • Code of Residents Rights (outlining you basic rights),
  • Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 and 2013 Variations (The revised code, now in use, gives greater clarity to residents and village operators.),
  • Disclosure Statement which will outline the type of investment or legal title you are ‘purchasing’ and the costs associated with living in the village.  Some of the terms you may see could be a Licence to Occupy (LTO), Lease for Life, Unit Title or Cross Lease. It is important that you understand the difference. It will also cover other key information such as ‘exit’ costs.

Because ‘buying into a retirement village is such a complex legal arrangement you must get specialized, independent legal advice before ‘purchasing’. To find a local lawyer who specializes in Elder Law check here on Eldernet.

Useful tools:

Sorted is New Zealand’s free independent money guide, run by the Commission for Financial Capability. The website has a lot of helpful information for intending Retirement Village residents. Click here to use their Retirement Planner.

The Commission for Financial Capability website will help you learn more about your rights and retirement village operator’s obligations. Check out their information here. The booklet Thinking of living in a retirement village is available to download or you can order a free copy.

The Retirement Villages Association [RVA] is a national body that works to represent, protect and promote the interests of its members and their associated services. They have a lot of great information, including a list of registered retirement villages. Check out their website here.


If you are interested in Retirement Village living have a look at some local options on Eldernet. Or order our Where From Here booklet which has important information and a list of local operators. You can order one by clicking here.

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams is the Content Developer and Social Media Administration for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.