I need to tell you a story of my journey as a senior citizen from the North Coast, where my doctor told me I could no longer live alone, travelling in a wheelchair to the Central Coast to be closer to my daughters.
Whilst my journey has ended well, it did include three moves and large losses, as retirement living companies took advantage of an elderly person.
I went to a retirement village in Erina and I bought, sight unseen.
That episode cost me over $50k, even on the 90 day buy back scheme.
They kept $1,035,000 for months and I live on my interest.
Others in the village were worse off, one lady bought into this village more than 20 years ago and was only given $240k at 84, when she had to leave, even though she had put in a new kitchen and bathroom.
They then put it straight on the market for $550k.
This shouldn’t be happening, but they’re acting within the law, and this particular Village is owned by investors in Singapore.
The Retirement Village had a very complicated 75 page lease that even the solicitor had trouble interpreting, and I had bought a three bedroom, two bathroom, villa at $725k, only to find that the rules said that only one visitor for 2 weeks could be there every six months.
My friend, Tara, from the UK, was coming for a visit, and this limitation was unacceptable, so I went to management and asked for her to stay longer and they said no, “and if you do, we will have you up for breach of your lease”.
The amenities were closed for many months due to water damage and the neighbours were not friendly.
I was on a right of way to the public, with many footballers and louts coming within feet of my patio, so I felt very unsafe.
The complicated and expensive rules of retirement villages must change.
I managed to escape, as I found this all most appalling, when one day, after an outing to the Theatre at Avoca Beach, I was both amazed and excited to get my ticket to freedom, having found a two bedroom, open plan living and kitchen, with a bathroom and two car spaces home, with resort style living, spa pool, games room, barbecue area for 50 people and more, for less than $300k, at The Palms, Avoca Beach.
The villa was very run down and smelt revolting, but as I was now well, and having renovated houses for 75 years, I took on the challenge to make this a beautiful home with a great organic vegetable garden that now helps me stay healthy and fit.
It’s so quiet here, full of trees and many types of birds, including lorikeets, butcher birds and ducks, all fed by the neighbours, plus frogs, crickets and water dragons.
It is just like heaven, so much peace.
It feels safe too, with neighbours, many of whom have been here for decades, looking out for each other.
This surfing village of Avoca has a real holiday feel, so it always feels very relaxed.
So if you are thinking of downsizing, looking for a holiday home or perhaps in a divorce situation with only half the funds to buy somewhere, it’s really wise to look into these Residential Land Lease Communities instead of a retirement village.
Email, Dec 10
Val Coad, Avoca Beach