How much does it cost to live in a retirement village?

If you are over the age of 55, moving into a retirement village can be a smart decision. Overall, there are plenty of factors that work together – from low maintenance and lots of facilities and amenities to good locations and a real feeling of community – that can make your golden years the best they can be.

However, embarking on a new style of living always takes a bit of adjustment and it usually comes with a range of payments and new fees that you might not have faced before. For this reason, it can be quite confusing, especially when the fees may differ depending on what contract you are entering into.

To give you a greater understanding of what is involved, we have outlined most of the costs that are typically associated with moving and living within a retirement village. Once you get a handle on these, it should make the process of moving into one a lot smoother and more manageable.

Tenure and Contract Types

The range of fees you have to pay for is largely dependent on what type of contract you enter into with the retirement village.

Below are a trio of the more typical tenure and contract types that Aussie retirement villages operate through.


Overall, freehold contracts tend to be the least common form of all contract types offered by retirement villages.

Should the community you want to move into offer them, you will end up owning your villa, unit or apartment completely – in the same way as if you were purchasing a home independently in a residential area. This would also require you to pay stamp duty.


How much does it cost to live in a retirement village.

Leaseholds are a far more common type of contract in retirement villages. Through them, the operator retains ownership of the properties and the residents sign on to long-term leases.

Sometimes these leases can last for up to 99 years, though they could also be for shorter term periods. However, if your lease is for 50 years or over, you will be regarded as a registered interest holder. If it is for less than that timeframe, you are considered a non-registered interest holder.

Generally speaking, these contracts are what is known as ‘assignable’. This means that should they decide to leave, residents are able to sell what is left on their lease to a new person.

Occupier Licence or Loan

These contract types are the most popular in the Australian retirement village sector. They require seniors to pay a fee to live in the community, however it does not provide them with ownership of the property in which they will be residing.

Essentially, the ongoing cost is an interest-free loan which one makes to the operator for the right to live within the community.

Prior to Moving In

Similar to all other transactions relating to property, the overall cost of moving into a retirement community can quickly mount up. Therefore, to help you budget, it is important for you to be aware of what they might be to avoid being caught short.

Waiting List

How much does it cost to live in a retirement village.

Quite a few retirement villages operate with waiting lists and it might surprise you to discover that some operators charge you for the privilege of being on them.

Prior to paying for this, it is important to establish what that waiting list fee is and the average length of time that people remain on the list prior to being offered somewhere to move into.

In addition, you should check to see what their refund policy is like, should you find elsewhere, change your mind or are not offered somewhere after a specific length of time.


Prior to moving in, many retirement communities will ask for you to pay a deposit – in the same way as you would have to put one down when buying a property.

Before doing this, it is worth ascertaining how long the deposit is held for and if there is a ‘cooling off’ period that will enable you to be refunded it should you change your mind within a certain time period.

Moreover, if you are entitled to receive a refund, double check if they are subject to admin fees.

Moving In

Anytime you move home there will be costs involved and when it comes to retirement villages it is no different. For this reason, you should be aware of the following costs.

Entry Related Costs

The type of contract you choose will have an impact on the fees you pay when entering a retirement village. The fee structure will differ depending on whether you entered into a license or loan to

occupy agreement.

In such a case, the fees may take the form of a refundable deposit, an interest-free loan or an ingoing contribution. These costs are generally paid in advance, though most will be refunded to you on leaving the community. That said, some retirement villages may give you the choice to negotiate a lower amount for your ingoing contribution, so long as you give the operator a larger amount on your departure.

For those with a leasehold contract, entry payments typically are influenced by market conditions. Meanwhile, for freehold contracts, residents will pay a buying price that assumes the property’s legal title. This price is usually settled upon after negotiations with the seller.

Stamp Duty

You will need to pay Stamp Duty on your villa, unit or apartment if your contract is a freehold. Additionally, if it is a leasehold you will probably also have to pay it depending on the length of the lease and which state you reside in.

Should your contract take the form of a licence to occupy or loan, then you will likely not have to pay stamp duty.

Moving Costs

How much does it cost to live in a retirement village.

When moving into the retirement village you will also have to factor in additional costs, such as those that might require the professional service of a removalist or cleaner.

Ongoing Costs

As is the case with any home, retirement communities tend to have ongoing costs that you will need to manage. So, it would be worth budgeting for them to ascertain how much you will have to pay for them.

Body Corporate

Those with leasehold or freehold contracts might be required to fork out for body corporate fees. That said, many retirement communities that operate with these types of contract might absorb them into an overall maintenance fee.

Metered Services and Utility Bills

Irrespective of the contract type you enter into, when you move into the retirement village, you will normally be responsible for paying your own utility bills. Generally speaking, this includes gas, water, electricity, phone and insurance.

Maintenance or Management Fees

Pretty much all retirement communities will impose ongoing management or maintenance fees, which you would be required to pay on either a monthly, fortnightly or weekly basis.

Typically, these fees cover the overall cost of running the village, incorporating standard and staff services, general tidying and maintenance of common areas, and the utility bills for common areas. Generally, the greater the range of standard facilities and services the retirement village offers, the more expensive the fees are likely to be.

While these fees might be listed in your contract, be mindful that they can increase at any time. This could be down to various reasons including increases in CPI and staff salaries, or an increase in charges and taxes.

As these are ongoing costs, it’s essential to check your contract to see how many of these fees must be paid and for what length of time. This is especially important if you are no longer willing or able to reside at the retirement community, but a new resident is not able to be found to replace you or your accommodation can’t be sold.

Additional Services

If you have decided to take advantage of any additional services that are available at your retirement village, it is important to take into account the associated costs. These services may include laundry, cleaning, meals, as well as personal care for assistance with dressing and bathing.

Even if you do not plan to use these services initially, it is advisable to consider whether you may require this additional help as you age. By doing so, you can factor these costs into your budget now and avoid any unexpected expenses in the future.

Special Levies

From time to time, some retirement communities may require you to pay additional costs above and beyond the standard fees. Typically this will cover unforeseen expenses like major upgrades and repairs and installing new services.

Leaving and Moving Out

When moving out of a retirement community you will probably have to pay some fees. (However, you might also receive some money back as well).

These are some of the main charges and fees you might need to account for when moving out of a retirement village.

Ongoing Charges

Due to the retirement village’s shared maintenance costs, you may need to continue paying until someone occupies your unit or apartment.

Deferred Management or Exit Fees

When you decide to leave a retirement village, you may have to pay exit fees, which are also known as departure fees or deferred management fees.

These fees are usually charged by the operator of the village and can be quite substantial. They are usually deducted from the sale of the unit or taken out of the refund of your ingoing fees.

Refurbishment and Repairs Fees

Retirement villages may require residents who are moving out to pay for any refurbishments or repairs that are necessary to ensure that the next occupant has the best possible experience.

This type of work is also known as ‘reinstatement work’. It may include upgrades such as new carpeting or fresh paint, and in the case of freeholds, it can increase the sale price of the property.

Should there be a disagreement about the extent and cost of the work required, the dispute may be taken to the administrative tribunal in your state.

Selling Costs and Capital Gains

If you own your retirement unit on a freehold contract, you will need to sell it when the time comes. This process may involve various costs, such as advertising fees and agent’s commission, just like selling any other property.

Should your contract specify that you are entitled to all capital gains made on the unit, you will most likely be responsible for all the selling costs. However, if the operator of the retirement community is entitled to some of the capital gains, they will generally share some of the costs associated with selling.

In this case, the operator may require you to use their preferred real estate agent, or you may be responsible for all the fees.

Fees Paid To You

Upon leaving the retirement village, you may well receive the sale price of your unit or a refund of your ingoing costs, minus any applicable fees.

Government Assistance

If you are renting a retirement village and need financial assistance, you may be eligible for Rent Assistance from the Australian Government. If you qualify, you can receive help to pay the fees to the retirement village of up to $138 every fortnight.

To be considered a renter, your retirement village contract must be a Loan or Licence to occupy. In addition, the resident’s ingoing contributions should be less than the present Extra Allowable Amount. (As of July 1st 2018 this was $207,000). Congruently, you should also be receiving the Age Pension to be eligible for Rent Assist.

Depending on your circumstances, you may also be eligible for additional support such as disability support or a carers’ allowance.