When you're planning for retirement, consider what kind of home you can afford and what suits your level of independence.
Think about whether you want to stay where you are, downsize, or move to a retirement home.
If you own your home
Staying in your home
If you plan to stay in your own home, you may need to make changes to help you stay independent. For example, bathroom upgrades or replacing steps with ramps. Plan ahead so that you can afford to make these changes when you need to.
Think about whether you're going to need help with daily chores, such as cleaning and shopping. The government provides services such as the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. Although subsidised, you will need to contribute to the cost if you can afford to.
If your home is going to need costly improvements, you may be considering downsizing. Your home may also be too far away from services or transport that will be important as you get older. Or it may simply be too big.
Downsizing is also a way to free up cash for your retirement. But it does come with costs. Think about:
- the cost of buying and selling in the same market
- stamp duty
- furniture removal
- legal fees
- estate agent fees
Selling your home may also have an impact on your Age Pension and government benefits.
Choosing to downsize is a big decision. Your new property may be the one you'll live in for the rest of your life. Make sure it suits your retirement lifestyle, budget and level of independence.
Read more about downsizing in retirement.
If you rent your home
If you rent your home, think about whether you'll be able to afford it when you retire. Rent is a big ongoing expense and you may have less income than you have now.
If you find the private rental market too expensive, there are lower rent options. Church and community organisations sometimes offer cheaper rooms or units for retirees who do not own their home. There's an assets test to qualify.
If you receive a Centrelink payment, you might be eligible for Rent Assistance.
For advice about staying in your rented home, contact your state or territory tenants union:
- Australia Capital Territory — Tenants’ Union ACT
- New South Wales — Tenants NSW
- Northern Territory — Darwin Community Legal Service Tenants' Advice Service
- Queensland — Tenants Queensland
- South Australia — Tenants' Information and Advocacy Service
- Tasmania — Tenants’ Union of Tasmania
- Victoria — Tenants Victoria
- Western Australia — Tenancy WA
If you need to move into residential care
Government subsidised aged care
For information about residential care options and costs, see Aged care.
Private retirement homes
There are many privately run retirement homes offering independent, semi-supported and flexible living arrangements. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has information about types and costs of retirement homes.
Before you sign up, check all the fees and charges, and how they may increase over time.
If you're buying a unit in a retirement village, get advice from a solicitor. Make sure they have experience with retirement village contracts and the Retirement Village Code of Practice.