Finding the perfect home for your retirement living is rarely simple. This guide is designed to help you understand the different retirement living options and their pros and cons. We’ll compare apartments, retirement villages, independent homes and master-planned communities.

Factors Influencing Australian’s Choice of Home

In 2014, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) released a report on Australians over 50 who choose to downsize and why they did. You can read the full report online[1] for a detailed insight, but for this guide, we’ll be focusing on the top factors that impacted downsizers when choosing their new home.

Some of the most important considerations were:

  1. Less maintenance of the home and yard (70%)
  2. Smaller dwelling (66%)
  3. Lifestyle improvements (57%)
  4. Close to shops, public transport and health services (50%)
  5. Close to children/relatives (34%)
  6. Reduced cost of living (33%)
  7. Closeness to aged care services (24%)
  8. Wanted a more modern home (23%)

Of all the housing options available to downsizers very few are likely to meet all the most important considerations, but each housing option does fulfil some of the considerations.


Apartment Living

Pros Cons
Low maintenance (1) Less control over solutions
Smaller dwelling (2) Some say it’s too small
Close to shops, public transport & health services (4)
Affordability (6) Less control over your costs


An apartment is an excellent choice for many reasons, but it may not suit everyone. First, they’re one of the most affordable choices – with the option to buy or rent in city locales. Moving closer to things like shops and public transport can be pricey, so choosing a smaller dwelling can offset this cost. They’re also the lowest maintenance option with most things taken care of by your body corporate, landlord or property managers. An apartment is perfect for those looking for a lock-and-leave lifestyle.


As one respondent in the AHURI survey noted, a small apartment is tricky for large gatherings, so make sure your common area is suitable for your family and friends when you plan a get-together.  We needed the house because… some of our children live interstate so we need accommodation when they come to visit.”

Apartment living means the common property is owned by the strata company, which means less control. Leaving issues in the hands of your body corporate, landlord or property manager will mean you have less direct involvement in the solution.  That said, you still have the opportunity to voice your opinions at body corporate meetings. If you decide to rent as the best option for your retirement living, you’ll have less stability in ongoing costs as rent increases.

 Retirement Villages

Pros Cons
Low maintenance (1) Less ability to customise your home
Lifestyle improvements (3) Residents’ are all retirees
Close to aged care services (7)


The biggest pros with retirement living are the proximity to aged care services and lifestyle improvements. Age-specific facilities are catering to retirees and often with organised activities in the community which help to build social networks.


Common reasons retirees choose to avoid age-specific housing is the lack of social variety in the neighbourhood. As one survey respondent said:

“Something we were both clear about was we weren’t going to go to a retirement village where everybody was over 55 and didn’t want to see a child in sight.”

There’s also little ability to customise your home, for example, to maintain your hobbies such as gardening or working on cars in your garage.

Independent home

Pros Cons
Smaller dwelling (2) Maintenance is up to you
Close to children/relatives (5) Affordability of neighbourhoods
A more modern home (8) A big financial investment


Downsizing into an independent home means much the same lifestyle, just in a smaller dwelling. With location flexibility, you can easily move closer to family and friends. Plus, many smaller homes are newly built which makes them extremely modern.


The difficulties with making the choice to live in an independent home include: managing the maintenance; committing to a large financial investment; and the decision to move close to family and friends, which is influenced by the affordability of a particular location. It’s not an easy decision and requires ample planning.

Master-planned community (MPC)

Pros Cons
Smaller dwelling (2) A high density of living
Lifestyle improvements (3)
Close to shops, public transport & health services (4)
More modern home (8) Minimal ability to customise


Unlike retirement villages, an MPC will have a variety of age groups in residence. With shared amenities, you can enjoy a connected, diverse community of all ages. You’ll be very close to facilities in the community, including retail, entertainment and health. The biggest pro to an MPC is the ability to move homes and stay within the community you call home. You can downsize in the same MPC and maintain your friendships for years to come.


Most MPC’s have a design style for their homes and the ability to customise the designs in some cases may be minimal – especially in terms of landscaping. It’s also possible for many homes to be built in proximity to one another, which in some MPC’s translates to smaller land sizes. Doing your research before settling on an MPC is important to avoid these cons.

All the options with our expert developments

Norm Carey has a long history in the property industry and decades of experience developing property throughout Australia. From luxury residential buildings to hotels, commercial developments and shopping centres. Get in touch with our team for information on upcoming projects.