Your home

A roof over your head

As you approach retirement you might be considering making some changes to your living arrangements. Here we explain some options available to you, whether you own your own home or are renting.

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. For example, you might want to install handrails or replace steps with ramps.

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.


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


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. 

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

Government help with 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're 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.

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. Find a solicitor who has had experience with retirement village contracts and the Retirement Village Code of Practice in your state or territory.

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 Aged-Care Rights Service on 02 9281 3672.

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

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Last updated: 13 Feb 2019