Number of retirement villages increasing across Australia

Retirement villages have always been a significant part of the property landscape and an in-depth study has revealed how much this area of aged care is continuing to grow. 

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) paired up with the Property Council of Australia to deliver the 2015 Retirement Census, which offered an in-depth look into this particular area.

The average resident is 81 years old at the time of entry.

There are over 2,300 retirement villages in Australia and the most common dwelling within these gated communities is a two-bedroom unit, comprising 77 per cent of total houses. Most of these are reasonably affordable, with the average value of $385,000 a full 68 per cent below the median house price.

Two-thirds of occupants in retirement villages are women and the majority of them are single. The other demographics were split into couples (36 per cent) and single males (13 per cent). The average resident is 81 years old at the time of entry and stays for around seven years on average.

The Property Council's Executive Director of Retirement Living Mary Wood stated that for certain elderly Australians, retirement villages offered a range of benefits.

"Retirement villages support the universal desire of older Australians to stay independent and socially engaged," she said. 

"They provide a supportive environment for people whose health is declining, who can no longer maintain or afford their large family home, or have lost their spouse."

The state of villages in the future

Despite the positive side, gated communities face a number of challenges looking ahead.

Many residents still require the support of aged care workers. According to a survey conducted by the IRT foundation, 36 per cent of residents stated they required in-home support services to maintain their lifestyle. This ranged from everyday tasks such as cooking and gardening to more specialised medical attention like supervision of medication.

The commencement of care is usually delayed in this group and the IRT stated that whilst the sample size was small, there was a clear pattern compared to those in other facilities. However, awareness of services is growing and the foundation believes that the positive impacts of aged care services will become more pronounced within these communities.

Another report highlighted the importance of sustainability in providing a high level of quality accommodation to the older population. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors stated that both environmental and economic factors must be taken into consideration when designing and building future villages.

Facilities need to focus on "waste efficiency, ease of access and user friendliness" to provide satisfaction for residents. However, they also need to be kept affordable as elderly residents are often reliant on life savings or pension payments to fund their accommodation.