Gone are the days of low budget demountables in caravan park-like over-50s communities.
Retirees are becoming more bargain savvy and less willing to skimp on quality, forcing developers to think outside the box.
With Australia’s ageing population set to explode to more than 6 million over the next 20 years, experts are calling for more affordable housing options for those aged 65 and above.
PRDnationwide national research manager Diaswati Mardiasmo said while aged care and retirement villages were popular choices, little was still known about Manufactured Home Estates.
It all comes down to dollars and cents as retirees become more educated about the ongoing costs of retirement villages, they’re looking to these estates as a budget friendly option.
Ms Mardiasmo said while the upfront purchase price of a home within an “MHE” was often substantially less, the real savings were in the deferred management fees found in all retirement villages.
“That’s the amount that you pay when you leave the retirement village, and it’s a percentage of the sale price and it’s multiplied by however many years that you’re there,” she said.
“That’s the underlying cost that some people don’t realise and that percentage can differ greatly between different retirement villages, but every retirement village would have that.
“Whereas with an MHE, there’s no deferred management fee, what they do is they charge their residents a weekly site rent, and that covers the rates and the park upgrades and things like that.”
For Halcyon Glades Caboolture residents Peter and Penny Costello, that was one of many reasons they opted for life in a MHE.
“We looked at a number of options including just downsizing to a home unit somewhere and considered retirement villages and other things,” Mr Costello said.
“At the end of the day we sat down and made a list of things we wanted to try to achieve.
“We wanted to release some capital for family purposes.
“We wanted to release ourselves from being slaves to home maintenance … because we were unable to maintain it ourselves or we were forced to pay money for people to come in and do it.
“We wanted to improve our lifestyle, because we’d been locked into home maintenance for such a long time we were not getting out and enjoying ourselves like people at our age should be able to do and from a long term point of view, we wanted to try and get our running costs under control.”
Mr Costello said while at first they thought a MHE was like a caravan park, it certainly wasn’t the case at Halcyon Glades.
“We said ourselves at the start, this is not necessarily have to be our forever home, if we do make a mistake we want to be somewhere where we’re free to sell and move on, and there’s no exit fees,” he said.
“Happily that won’t be the case.”
Mr Costello said, while under the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act 2003, a manufactured home was designed to be moved from one position or another, it was unlikely anyone ever would.
“It is technically possible to move the homes, but it would be a silly thing to contemplate doing, but you could actually do it if you wished, if you had sufficient money and energy,” he said.
Ms Mardiasmo said the thing that retirement villages and aged care facilities did offer over MHEs were the medical facilities.
“At the end of the day it also depends on everybody’s health conditions and mobility,” she said.
“MHE is like a smaller home than yours that you currently have, it’s in an area, or a managed park where you do have other retirees around you so you can socialise, but you do still have to be quite healthy, quite independent, quite mobile.”
Ms Mardiasmo said while in the past a MHE had been like a caravan park, they had become more evolved as demand increased and some were starting to include onsite medical centres.
“There are some MHE’s that are trying to become quite sophisticated that have a medical unit on board.”