What’s the difference between a retirement village and an over 55 community?

There’s a lot of confusion that arises when people start to discuss retirement villages and over 55 communities – and that’s certainly understandable.

After all, they both perform similar purposes and functions, and both are a fun and enriching environment for older people who still desire to live independently. But there are a few differences between the two – let’s dive in and find out exactly what they are, and how they might affect your choice.

What they are

A retirement community is a complex full of houses that are designed for older people who are retired or approaching retirement, and who are reasonably active and mobile and desire to live independently.

It’s a great choice for people wishing to downsize yet still be independent, without having to commit to a house and land purchase.

Similarly, an over 55 living community is designed for people aged over 55 who want to embrace fun and independent living in a community setting with on-site facilities.

How they are similar

Both types of facility offer an inclusive micro-community, that allows residents to undergo a fulfilling, busy and active life with like-minded people. They both provide facilities and activities for residents to participate in, although over 55 communities tend to provide more resort-style facilities, such as swimming pools and clubhouses. Retirement village tend to provide more care-type facilities that are suitable for a slightly older population. Both will provide security to ensure residents feel safe and supported within their community.

How they differ

Ownership and contracts

One of the major differences relates to what you are paying for in each community, and the rights you have as a resident.

A retirement community usually involves a land agreement rather than a building agreement. When you invest in a retirement community, you sign a loan or licence agreement which gives you the right to reside in a home for a set period of time. It’s beneficial for seniors who don’t want to commit to a major house and land purchase as they get older.

On the other hand, when you move into an over 55 lifestyle community, you usually buy your home and land and own it outright. Like anywhere else, if you leave the community, you’ll have to sell your house. Of course, there are different types of contracts available –

for instance, you may buy the house, but rent the land that it sits on. Either way, the ownership model is quite different to that of a retirement community.


The costs you will have to pay once you are part of the community or village will also differ.

In a retirement village, the main costs are:

  • Entry fee
  • Monthly service fee
  • Deferred management fee or exit fee

In an over 55 lifestyle community, you will have to pay:

  • Initial purchase price
  • Ongoing site fees

You won’t have to pay exit fees, capital gains sharing or stamp duty, however.

Age when you move in

You don’t need to be retired to move into either type of community, although most people in retirement villages certainly are. This tends to skew the age bracket of retirement communities on average nine years older than the over 55 lifestyle communities, which attract younger people who may still be working full or part-time.

Over 55 communities tend to attract people who have chosen the lifestyle on offer; whereas retirement communities tend to attract people who want to slow down, take life easier and have access to facilities and amenities which will help them do that.


There is different legislation that governs retirement villages and over 55 communities. Retirement villages are regulated by the Retirement Villages Act in each state or territory. Over 55 communities operate under specific legislation in each state or territory.

The legislation in retirement villages is more closely aligned with strata title property ownership, while the legislation in over 55 communities is more closely aligned with a tenancy agreement similar to caravan parks and mobile homes.

So, there are some of the main differences between the two types of community, and which one you choose will depend on your unique situation in life and what you are looking for. Have a look at the Alumuna retirement community here: https://www.alumuna.net.au