Around 260,000 Australians now live in a retirement village, and the industry’s peak body says one of the key attractions of retirement living is the cost.

The Property Council’s Retirement Living Council states the sector can provide affordability in an otherwise unaffordable housing market.

As a rule of thumb, retirement dwellings can be around 80% cheaper than buying a similar private home in the same area.

For example, in Adelaide, the median house price in December 2023 was $740,000.

On, ECH Moran Court in Fullarton, an inner southern suburb of Adelaide, has one single bedroom apartment with car space available for $250,000 (75% refund on exit).

The 2022 PwC/Property Council Retirement Census found the average cost of a two-bedroom independent living unit in a retirement community nationwide rose by just 6.6% over the 18 months to December 2022 to $516,000.

In contrast, over the same period, national house prices climbed 26% to an average of $831,900.

So, what should you consider if you are looking to buy into a village?

The village operator must provide a rundown of costs, so the prospective resident and/or their families, understand clearly what costs are expected, including the exit fee when the time comes to leave the village.

There also is a fortnightly service charge, which is normally tied to the annual increase in CPI.

All States and Territories have basic consumer protection laws covering retirement villages which operators must comply with. These include rules around operators providing plain English contract disclosure statements and built-in cooling-off periods if purchasers change their minds.

It is always recommended that you seek legal advice before signing a retirement village contract.