By Jessica Kinnear on 14 November 2018

CompareVillages.com.au is Australia’s first and only website helping Australians to comprehensively compare retirement living accommodation. Until now the retirement living industry has been shrouded in confusion, complexity and misconceptions, particularly around fees. Prospective purchasers had to research villages separately, often left to do their own comparison of potentially very different product, which can be daunting and time consuming. CompareVillages does the legwork for you and makes real comparison possible. 

Users of the site can nominate where they would like to live, the type of property they’re looking for, how many bedrooms, bathrooms and carparks they require, and select the lifestyle features that appeal to them – some want a pool, a gym, a restaurant or tennis court, for others the ability to take their pets, an onsite hairdresser or the option to have meals provided is key. Budgets are entered into the site and just like a Domain or Realestate, a number of options fitting the requirements are presented in a simple comparison table. Contact can be made through the site to the selected village managers. 

CompareVillages was founded by Jessica Kinnear, who worked as a lawyer in the retirement village space. She saw firsthand the confusion around the fee structures in the space and the desire for greater transparency. “I could see the need for a simple to use, free comparison service. A bit like an iSelect or Trivago for the retirement living sector,” says Jessica.

The site also publishes the fees associated with each property. Retirement properties are structured around three types of fees; entry fees, ongoing fees and departure fees*.

“We’ve even built in an easy to use departure entitlement calculator which gives users an estimate of what they or their family could expect when they leave a village. We also have plain language fee explanations when you hover over each fee. This kind of transparency and education empowers consumers and avoids the feeling of being ‘ripped off’,” explains Jessica.

Retirement living is very different to residential aged care or nursing homes. Retirement living is for seniors looking for a certain lifestyle. Many are downsizers. Research shows the social and physical benefits actually stave off the need for aged care**. 

CompareVillages features retirement living properties from across Australia and is growing its base all the time. It lists some of the largest operators such as Lendlease, Aveo and RetireAustralia as well as Lifestyle Communities, Regis, Japara, Baptcare, Greengate, The Village Retirement Group and Essendon Terrace, which are all supportive of the initiative. “RetireAustralia firmly supports greater transparency in the sector and believe Compare Villages is providing a much needed, independent service,” says RetireAustralia CEO, Alison Quinn, “Entering a retirement village is much bigger than a bricks and mortar decision and Compare Villages is helping potential residents make a well informed decision. It’s a great step for the sector.”

Australia has an ageing population. In 2015 3.6 million Australians were over 65 and this number is expected to balloon to 8.5 million by 2055. “With anticipated growth in demand for retirement villages a strong, transparent and trusted sector will be needed more than ever,” says Jessica. 

For more information visit https://comparevillages.com.au/: HERE

Jessica is an expert on the retirement living industry and can be interviewed about understanding fees and choosing the property that is right for you, as well as the lifestyle and health benefits surrounding retirement living.