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Lifestyle Village vs. Retirement Villages: Breaking Down the Difference

When the time comes to pick a retirement community, seniors have plenty of choices. Lifestyle villages and retirement villages lead the list. Both have a lot to offer, but there are key differences you should know before making your choice.

What is a Lifestyle Village?

A lifestyle village also called a land lease community, is perfect for folks over 50, semi-retired or fully retired but wanting to keep active. You’ll find all sorts of fun things to do here. Enjoy a dip in the swimming pool, compete in tennis, or head to the clubhouse for a workout in the gym or even a movie night.

Safety is a big plus in lifestyle villages. These are usually gated communities, providing solid security and privacy. That’s one reason they’re a hit, particularly with single women. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about mowing your lawn or pruning bushes; many lifestyle villages handle landscaping chores for you.

What is a Retirement Village?

A retirement village is tailored for those who are 55 or older. Many people in retirement villages are retired or semi-retired, meaning they’ve left their jobs and usually aren’t looking for new ones. These places offer more than just a house; they often include home care services, planned activities, and chances to socialise.


The themes make most retirement villages stand out, especially in Australia. These themes group like-minded people together based on common interests. Whether you’re into cars, have a shared cultural background, love learning, or are an artist, there’s likely a themed community for you. This unique feature helps residents feel engaged, keeps loneliness at bay, and provides a sense of security.

Key Differences

Two major concepts emerge when exploring the options for senior living in Australia: Lifestyle Villages and Retirement Villages. While they may seem similar on the surface, there are fundamental differences between the two, each designed to cater to unique preferences and lifestyles. Let’s delve into these key differences:

Activity and Independence:

Lifestyle Villages: Designed for active Over 50s, Semi-Retirees, and Retirees who want to keep their independence while maintaining an active lifestyle. These communities often emphasise recreational and social activities, giving residents many opportunities to stay active and engaged.

Retirement Villages: Tailored for older seniors, typically those looking for a more relaxed pace after retiring from work. While recreational activities are available, the focus is on providing a comfortable and relaxed environment.

Management Structure:

Lifestyle Villages: Residents play a pivotal role in community governance. They form committees that actively manage village matters, ensuring their voices are always at the forefront.

Retirement Villages: These are closely managed by appointed professionals or management entities. They oversee daily operations, organise activities, and take a more centralised approach to decision-making.

Ownership and Costs:

Lifestyle Villages: Residents own their homes, ensuring personal autonomy. However, they lease the land, resulting in distinct costs. Notably, there's no stamp duty, and they retain all capital gains, with the absence of deferred management fees prevalent in retirement villages.

Retirement Villages: Ownership might be through strata title or leasehold, introducing more intricate contracts and fees. Such contracts may include deferred management fees, exit fees, and potential stamp duty, affecting the financial outcomes when exiting.


Lifestyle Villages: Governed by Manufactured Housing Estates (MHE) or similar housing structures in various states.

Retirement Villages: Specifically protected under the Retirement Villages Act, which outlines important rights and provides residents an added layer of security.

Services and Assisted Living:

Lifestyle Villages: While amenities like swimming pools, tennis courts, and clubhouses are prevalent, specialised services like assisted living or healthcare might be less common.

Retirement Villages: Often provide a broader range of services like meal plans, housekeeping, health care, and transportation. Moreover, many retirement villages offer assisted living options for those who need help with daily activities.

Community and Security:

Lifestyle Villages: Emphasise community-building and active participation. These are often gated, ensuring privacy and security for the residents.

Retirement Villages: While community is a cornerstone, there is also a strong emphasis on providing a supportive and safe environment. This often includes additional security measures and systems for residents' welfare.

Statistics as of 2020:

  1. Total Number of Retirement Villages: 2,722

  2. Total Number of Retirement Village Residents: Approximately 184,000

  3. Total Number of Australians Aged Over 65: Approximately 3.2 million

  4. Percentage of Australians Aged Over 65 Living in Retirement Villages: Around 5.7%

The percentage of Australians over 65 living in retirement villages was calculated as follows for the year 2020:

(184,000 residents / 3,200,000 total Australians aged over 65) x 100 = 5.7%

Statistics as of 2023:

  1. Current Number of Retirement Village Residents: 200,000

  2. Projected Number of Retirement Village Residents by 2025: 382,000

  3. Projected Growth Rate of Retirement Village Residents from 2023 to 2025: If we assume a linear growth rate, the number of residents is expected to double from more than 200,000 in 2023 to 382,000 in 2025, representing an approximate growth rate of 107.6% over the 2-year period.
The number of retirement village residents is expected to double by 2025, signaling a rapidly growing sector in Australia’s housing market for older adults.

Understanding Retirement and Lifestyle Village Contracts in Australia

Retirement Village Contracts

Retirement villages in Australia have several contractual arrangements. Each has its own set of terms and conditions, and residents and potential residents must understand these before entering an agreement. Here’s a breakdown:

Land lease model:

A prevalent leasing model where residents get a lease or licence for an extended period.

Strata title:

Offered mainly by for-profit retirement villages. Residents pay an agreed purchase price to the unit owner and get occupancy rights and membership in the owner corporation.

Company title:

Residents purchase shares in a company owning the land and the village’s structures.

Unit trust:

Less common, where residents buy a ‘unit of entitlement’ or share in a trust that owns the land and village structures.

Periodic tenancy:

Residents have a lease or licence agreement renewed periodically.

Important Consideration: By law, potential residents must receive a retirement village contract and disclosure statement at least 21 days before signing. It’s essential to consult with legal practitioners or financial advisers knowledgeable about retirement village contracts for a comprehensive understanding.

Lifestyle Village Contracts

Lifestyle villages, while sharing some similarities with retirement villages, have unique contractual structures:

✓ Land Lease Agreement: Predominantly, Lifestyle Villages offer land lease agreements allowing residents to purchase the home while leasing the land underneath.

While Retirement Villages generally offer strata titles or leaseholds, Lifestyle Villages differ in their approach.


However, these contracts can be intricate:

  • They express the obligations of a resident clearly.


  • Contracts could create a registered or equitable interest in the village land.


The Retirement Villages Act (NSW) 1999 (as amended) regulates all retirement village contracts.

A more in-depth look into some common arrangements:

✓ Leasehold arrangements: Residents might need to enter a lease agreement if a Village Operator owns the residential premises.

Important Note: Before making any decisions, it’s imperative to consult with professionals, be they legal practitioners or financial advisers, familiar with the intricacies of these contracts. Understanding your rights, obligations, and financial implications is essential for making informed decisions.

The Right Choice for You

Choosing a retirement community is like picking a new chapter for your story. What do you see in this next phase of life? If you’re over 50 and still have a spark for adventure and a love for independence, a lively lifestyle community is your scene. On the other hand, if you’re picturing a peaceful haven with a bit of extra care and support, a retirement village might feel just right.

Your choice will hinge on what you need now and what you think you’ll want in the future. And, of course, what fits your pocket. To truly get a feel, step into various communities, chat with the people living there and see what feels like home.
Now, speaking of choices, have you heard about The Links, located in the heart of South West Rocks?

Imagine a place where nature’s beauty and modern comforts blend seamlessly. That’s The Links for you, settled in the heart of the tranquil South West Rocks. Here, nature isn’t just a distant view but a close friend. Stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and lively town centers like Horseshoe Bay are just around the corner.

At The Links, we don’t just offer houses; we present homes that resonate with warmth and community spirit. Residents often rave about our blend of facilities, from heated pools for year-round swims to places where they can challenge friends to a friendly game of bowls.

But what sets The Links apart is its straightforward ownership and cost model. Unlike traditional retirement villages with complex contracts and multiple fees, The Links simplifies your life with no Entry or Exit Fees and no Capital Gains Fees. You own your home and pay a modest weekly site rental fee, making financial planning for your golden years a breeze.

Another major advantage is that you keep 100% of your capital gains if you decide to sell your home in the future. It’s not just about owning a property; it’s about smart ownership that respects your hard-earned money.

But what truly makes The Links a favoured choice among retirees is the essence of belonging. It’s about shared stories over barbecues, collective memories, and a sense of home that’s hard to put into words but easy to feel.

Explore the possibilities at The Links in South West Rocks. Discover the perfect blend of community, comfort, and adventure in South West Rocks. Contact us today to schedule your visit and unlock possibilities in your retirement journey. Don’t wait; your ideal lifestyle is just a call away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Lifestyle Villages typically offer a range of amenities designed to support an active lifestyle. These may include swimming pools, tennis courts, gyms, and centralised clubhouses with features like cinemas.

The process can vary depending on the specific village. It typically involves an application process, a tour of the village, and a discussion with the village management about your needs and preferences.

Whether a lifestyle village is a good idea depends on your needs and lifestyle. Lifestyle villages can offer social activities, healthcare facilities, and potential financial benefits.

Start with an application, then take a tour. Our team will guide you through the process.

The Links stands out due to its prime South West Rocks location, seamlessly blending natural beauty with top-tier amenities. Unlike standard retirement communities, we offer both scenic landscapes and state-of-the-art facilities. Our community is crafted to foster belonging and connection among residents. We prioritise financial clarity, eliminate convoluted fees, and provide a transparent living experience. Our range of amenities promotes an active lifestyle, while nearby essential services ensure convenience. At The Links, we offer a holistic, enriching environment tailored for retirees.

We partner with local healthcare providers and offer assisted living options to meet residents’ health needs.