Your home

A roof over your head

If you're over 55, housing is probably your biggest expense, especially if you don't own your own home.

Here are some accommodation options you might be considering:

Government help with housing

Public and community housing

If you find the private rental market too expensive, you might find lower rent options in your retirement years. Church and community organisations sometimes offer cheaper rooms or units for retirees who do not own their homes. There's an assets test to qualify. See the Department of Social Services (DSS) website for a list of agencies who can help you with housing assistance.

Aged care

If you are having trouble carrying out everyday tasks that used to be easy, you may need to think about your aged care options. You could be eligible for care and accommodation options such as in a low-level care home (formerly a hostel), a high-level care home (formerly a nursing home), or even a short break in an aged-care home. See aged care for more information.

Renting

With rising house prices, some people choose to, or have to, rent a home. If you receive a Centrelink payment and pay board or rent you might be eligible for Rent Assistance

To find out more about your rights as a tenant in your state or territory, you can contact a number of organisations. While government consumer agencies give advice to both real-estate owners and tenants, tenant unions and advocacy groups are set up to give advice to tenants only. 

Government consumer agencies and fair trading offices

Tenants' unions and advocacy groups

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) gives tips on dealing with real estate services or call them 1300 302 502.

Staying in your family home

If you plan to stay in your home as you get older, think about making changes that can help you remain independent. You can plan for easy-access transport and budget for modifications to your house so it remains comfortable to live in:

  • Will you need extra railings?
  • Could you replace steps with ramps?
  • Think about the size of your garden and if you can afford to maintain it if you become less mobile.  

Read more at Your aged care: Home modifications and maintenance.

If you are thinking about home equity release, be sure to get financial advice before you make a decision. It is a long-term commitment.

Downsizing

If you're thinking of downsizing to smaller or cheaper accommodation, think about the cost of buying and selling in the same market. There will be furniture removal costs, stamp duty, legal fees, estate agent fees and inspection fees. Read more about selling the family home

If you do decide to move house once you retire, make sure you will have easy access to public transport. This can be critical as you get older, particularly if you can't use your own transport.

Retirement accommodation

Retirement villages have a range of independent, semi-supported and flexible living options. Under the usual contract for a retirement village unit, you do not become an owner, but you are bound by a number of legal rights and responsibilities.

Make sure you understand all the fees and charges in the contract, and how they could be increased. Get the agent to provide these terms in writing.

It is very important to get legal advice before signing up. Try to ask a solicitor who has had experience with retirement village contracts and the Retirement Village Code of Practice in your state or territory.

You should check how much of your entry contribution and if any capital growth in the value of your unit will be refunded if you decide to leave the village. Also check the contract for exit fees, which can be prohibitively high, and which you may have to pay until the unit is sold or re-let.

More information is available from ACCC: Retirement homes or call 1300 302 502. In NSW you can also contact the Retirement Village Residents Association (NSW) or call 02 9858 1757, and The Aged-care Rights Service on 02 9281 3672 (country callers 1800 424 079; TTY users 13 36 77).

Buying or renting a caravan

Thinking about taking your home on the road? You will have a number of decisions to make if you plan to travel around in a caravan or live in a caravan park. The Grey Nomads website: Choosing A Rig can help with your research.

Caravan park residents' advocacy groups

As a caravan-park resident, you may not enjoy the same rights as a tenant renting a property. If you are concerned about your rights as a resident in a caravan park, you can ask for information from the organisations listed under the Renting section above, and a number of other organisations.

  • NSW Park and Village Service (PAVS) 02 9566 1120 (country callers 1800 131 310)
  • QLD Caravan and Manufactured Home Residents Association (CAMRA) 07 3893 0733

Start researching your accommodation options now to ensure you have an affordable roof over your head when you retire.


Related links


Last updated: 29 Aug 2016