A survey of 190 village residents living at three villages owned by Not For Profit Victorian operator Benetas has given an insight into why people choose to live in a retirement village. 

“The decision to move to retirement living is rarely made quickly or on impulse. It’s a choice based on factors impacting both the prospective resident(s) and their loved ones,” Bruce Webb, Benetas General Manager Strategy, Infrastructure and Housing, said.

The survey covered residents at three of its sites: Bridgewater Lake in Roxburgh Park, 21km north of the Melbourne CBD, St John’s Rise in Mooroolbark, 37km east of Melbourne’s CBD and Dalkeith Heights in Traralgon in the La Trobe Valley, Gippsland.  

“Of the respondents surveyed, 62% were women and almost 80% were born in Australia with the average age sitting in the late 70s. Around 53% had lived in their respective retirement villages for more than four years and 8% for more than a decade. More than 70% of respondents felt they were in either very good or good health.

“The survey posed a range of questions including why they chose to move out of the family home and why they chose retirement living. The results highlighted that around 90% of respondents chose retirement living as an easier, simpler alternative to the maintenance required at their previous home.

“They were also attracted to the fact that retirement living units came in various shapes and sizes, with very little maintenance required inside and outside the home. In a retirement community, residents have access to a range of affordable services and amenities when needed. They can stay active with lawn bowls, swimming pools, gyms as well as more social activities such as billiards and darts.”

“Many also maintain the same connections to the community they had before retirement living, with a multitude of transport options and planned activities available at their doorstep. Some of our residents are Commonwealth Home Support Program and Home Care Package recipients, receiving social support that helps link them with the broader community. This includes outings to local shopping centres, garden centres, nurseries, parks, and beaches.

“The second most common reason for choosing retirement living was security, with 74% citing the self-contained nature of the communities, village staff and the essential 24-hour emergency call system. While many retirement living residents are healthy and active, many find it reassuring knowing that living within a retirement village provides them that extra level of security and assistance when needed.

Finally, more than half of respondents were drawn to the community nature and the ability to form long-lasting relationships (55%). Regular group activities foster strong opportunities to meet and form long-lasting relationships with neighbours.

“Our three retirement living communities run a multitude of activities and initiatives on site, many of which attract members of the broader community to the village,” said Bruce. “The Bridgewater Lake Art Show in particular has become a staple for the people in the Hume area over the past 12 years and a beacon for art communities in Melbourne’s north to come together once a year.

“Seminars and visits by celebrities and people of interest are common across the three sites, while educational sessions ranging from technology tips to arts and crafts lessons ensure residents never stop learning. As they age, seniors are encouraged to remain social and connected for both physical and mental health and retirement villages very much facilitate this.”

Findings that underline the great value that retirement villages can deliver.