How do retirement villages work and what are the benefits?

Did you know? The first retirement village in Australia is believed to have been set up in the 1920s. Around that time, George Marchent, a Brisbane Methodist, established Whellar Gardens, when he noticed there was a need to house widows who were getting older and had little support.

Today, over 100 years later there are around 2200 retirement communities dotted around Australia. But what are they and how do they work? And more importantly, what are their benefits?

Allow us to elaborate.

What is a Retirement Village?

A retirement village is a purpose-built community for seniors and retirees who want a change in their lifestyle once they stop working and as they get older.

These communities offer a wide range of properties, facilities, amenities and services that are very much focused on convenience, lifestyle, and community. Typically, they operate on a License to Occupy agreement, which means that the operators of the village are responsible for the upkeep of anyone who stays there.

Is a retirement community the same as aged care?

It is worth pointing out that retirement living is not the same as aged care.

Often referred to as nursing homes, residential aged care homes offer a residential setting which enables seniors to receive high levels of care.

By contrast, retirement living communities are where go to continue to live their life independently as they see fit.

How Do Retirement Communities Operate?

How do retirement villages work and what are the benefits.

Essentially, retirement villages provide residential accommodation to people who are aged 55 or over. They are typically managed by companies or non-profit charitable organisations.

The main purpose of retirement villages is to develop a sense of belonging and community among those who live and work there. It is also to bring together people who have similar live experiences and are around the same age.

Currently in Australia there are around 2,200 retirement villages dotted around the country. They provide accommodation for more than 170,000 seniors who tend to range in ages from 55 to over 100. That said, the average age of any given senior in a retirement community is 81.

Retirement villages offer a range of options to cater to the health and mobility of their residents. This can include homes that allow for full independent living. At the same time, it can also incorporate serviced units, or full nursing care. In some instances, all three options are available within the same property. Typically, retirement villages offer homes for sale, although some may offer rental options.

Apart from retirement villages, another option you might want to consider is lifestyle resorts which cater to those aged 50 and over. These resorts operate on a land lease community model and are designed for younger people who are active, fit and fully independent.

Why do seniors choose to live in a retirement village?

Seniors tend to move into retirement communities or villages for various reasons, although the main ones tend to be freedom, convenience and choice. However, this can take on different meanings for different people.

For instance, some people might move to be closer to their loved ones and mates. Alternatively, others relocate to a better location than they are currently in, often to be nearer the beach, a landmark like a national park, to live in a quieter, rural destination or to be close to restaurants and shops.

Other reasons people might move for is to live in a home that is easier and more manageable to maintain. They could also want to reduce the amount they are paying for its running costs and live somewhere that is more secure than they currently do.

Services and facilities at a retirement village

Retirement villages provide residents with comfortable accommodations. In addition, many provide access to home care services like personal care, nursing facilities and help at home, in case they are needed.

Generally speaking, retirement villages offer a community living experience where residents can interact and socialise and interact with others in various hubs within the village. Typically, this can include facilities such as a licensed bar or cafe, libraries and TV rooms. But it can also incorporate a swimming pool, gym or a putting green.

Some villages even offer organised activities and outings such as keep-fit classes, musical performances, quizzes and trips to the beach, shops or other popular local destinations.

Moreover, retirement villages are designed to provide community areas and maintenance-free gardens where residents can relax. Some also include home maintenance as part of their offering. So, if you need to replace a light bulb or make any other minor repairs to the property, it will be taken care promptly of at no additional cost to you.

Many retirement villages have convenient links to public transport, hospitals, medical facilities, shopping centres, sporting venues or social clubs like RSLs.

15 Benefits of living in a Retirement Village

How do retirement villages work and what are the benefits.

As a senior, there are plenty of benefits to living in a retirement village. Here is a rundown of some of the main ones.

Active lifestyle

Many communities provide residents with opportunities to live a more active lifestyle through the facilities, amenities and social activities they offer including swimming pools, gyms and dance classes.


Most communities provide their residents with access to a range of amenities that keep them active, social and mentally engaged. This could be anything from a swimming pool and community bus to a bar or library, all of which might be things they don’t have ready access to where they currently live.

Community Advisory boards

Many retirement villages have community advisory boards that can provide a wealth of information to residents. This helps them to stay more connected and a part of the local community than they otherwise might be if they lived on their own in a residential suburb.

The advisory boards tend to convey a range of information from upcoming events to specific services you can utilise. Overall, it can be an invaluable resource.


One of the main benefits of retirement villages is the convenience they offer residents. This can take many forms including having meals prepared for them, lawns mowed for them and general maintenance complete.

However, it can also include the convenience of transport – whether that be a dedicated village bus or public transport -, onsite medical services or simply the proximity to various places such as the local shopping centre, the closest beach or the CBD.


For some seniors it can be a lot more cost effective to live in a retirement village than it would be to rent or own a property elsewhere. Not least because they might not have to pay as much in electricity, rates, house insurance and general repairs. So, there might be an attractive financial benefit to moving.

Effortless maintenance

Retirement villages tend to offer residents the benefit of no maintenance as they have dedicated staff whose remit is to mow the lawns or fix things that are not working or have broken. This takes the hassle away from them of doing this chores and gives them the peace of mind that these jobs will be taken care of.


Retirement villages offer a range of accommodation options, so it gives seniors flexibility in terms of

finding somewhere that suits their needs.

Moreover, as they can also pick between living independently there or taking advantage of assisted living services, they also have a choice of how they want to live.

Healthcare professionals and services

In a retirement village you will likely have access to a range of health care professionals onsite. These can include a registered nurse, occupational therapist, podiatrists and physiotherapists.

This can be invaluable for seniors as it will enable them to be proactive and reactive to their health. It can also be especially reassuring for those who live alone.

Independent Living

How do retirement villages work and what are the benefits.

For many seniors, moving to a retirement village gives them the best of two worlds. It allows them to keep living independently, but it also places them in a community of similar aged and like-minded people with whom they can socialise if they want to.

Moreover, should they require medical services or any other assistance, they are given the peace of mind to be able to call upon it as and when they need it.

Onsite facilities

To attract residents and make their lives alot easier, most retirement villages provide a range of onsite facilities.

Having access to onsite dining, medical services and transportation can be very convenient.

Peace of mind

Living in a retirement village can give seniors incredible peace of mind that they will be well looked after. This is particularly important for those who either do not have any family at all, or that are living close to them.

This peace of mind will differ depending on the individual. However, it can incorporate everything from a safe and secure place to live to the feeling of knowing you live close to people your age that you can socialise with.

Save time on chores

In a retirement village, many of the chores you would ordinarily have to do are automatically taken care of, such as mowing the lawn and taking the bins out. By saving time on chores, you will be able to focus on other social activities that enable you to relax and bring you fun and enjoyment.

Social opportunities

Retirement villages offer a plethora of social opportunities to their residents, which they might not ordinarily have access to. Some have onsite bars, swimming pools and meeting areas, while others run regular day trips, events like trivia quizzes and dances and even classes for yoga or keep-fit.

Indeed there retirement villages tend to offer so many social opportunities, you’ll never be bored!


A key benefit for many seniors of living in a retirement village is that they are very secure. Most of them have a suite of safety and security features which are designed to protect residents.

Some of these might include being in a gated community, living in units that require key coded entry, security alarms, emergency buttons and CCTV cameras. All of which enable residents to live without the fear or concerns they might otherwise have.

Sense of community

Many retirees who live alone can suffer from social isolation, particularly if their children are grown up and have families of their own, live a far distance away or if they, themselves, are not very mobile. For this reason, joining a retirement village can provide them with a real sense of community.

Living in a retirement community means you are a part of something. You also are around people who are at a similar stage of your life and enjoy some of the same hobbies and past-times you do. This can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling and can reduce your chances of loneliness.