Don't leave it too late! The following list from 'itsyourlife.com.au' should help you get started:
Moving to a retirement village is essentially a lifestyle decision so it doesn't necessarily make sense to put it off until your health starts to fail, your mobility starts to deteriorate, or your spouse moves into residential aged care or dies. Depending on the village, there could be a waiting list to get in or for particular home styles, configurations or locations.
It's a good idea to look at several retirement villages before you make a final decision. You will then have at least some basis for comparison, which is usually the best way to identify relative value for money. You can try searching Villages.com.au to find information and contact details for hundreds of retirement villages across Australia.
If you have a furry friend who simply must come with you, then this should be one of your first considerations because not all retirement villages allow pets and those that do usually require prior approval. The listings in our retirement village directory indicate whether the village is pet friendly and may include information about the village pet policy, but you should confirm that your particular pet will be welcome.
For each village, go over the unit, the village and the surrounding area in detail to satisfy yourself that they are appropriate for your requirements. Talk to village management and current residents, particularly members of any Residents' Committee, and carefully observe daily life in the village.
Satisfy yourself that the village will be able to efficiently meet your needs in the future if you require additional assistance as you age. Consider whether other services you may need are available in the area.
In most States the relevant legislation imposes a fairly high disclosure requirement on the village operator, so you can expect to receive a range of disclosure documents, as well as marketing material. Read it and don't rely on anything that's not in writing. The documentation should set out a lot of important information that you need to know and which will help you make comparisons between different villages. In particular it should outline the legal structure, initial entry price, ongoing charges, how much stamp duty will be payable on the contract and what happens when you leave the village, including whether a departure fee is payable.
If there is a departure fee, understand how the formula works and estimate how much it could be in a range of scenarios. Satisfy yourself that the structure is appropriate for your intended or likely period of occupation. Remember that in most cases capital gain foregone or handed back is effectively part of the departure fee.
Don't make decisions based solely on the legal structure or the initial entry price or the ongoing charges or the departure fee structure. Retirement villages offer a range of benefits and involve a number of costs and risks, all of which should be taken into consideration.
Retirement villages are a specialized area of law and the legal documentation that you will be required to sign will be quite lengthy and complicated. So it makes good sense to find a lawyer who has suitable experience and doesn't have to muddle through or reinvent the wheel. You should endeavour to read the legal documentation and then discuss it with your lawyer in detail to ensure that you understand it and that it includes all information on which you have relied.
Always remember that as well as a home, you need money to live on. Put a financial plan in place that will ensure that you can have your cake and eat it too. If you don't have a will or it no longer reflects your wishes, make one or have it updated.