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What are Independent Living Units?

Independent living units, also known as retirement village apartments or senior living apartments, are residential accommodations designed for individuals who can live on their own but prefer the convenience, amenities, and social opportunities provided by a community setting. These units are typically part of retirement living community, also known as a retirement village.

Retirement living units are designed to offer a private living space while also providing easy access to various services and amenities to support an active and maintenance-free lifestyle. They are often available to individuals aged 55 and older, although the specific age requirements can vary depending on the community.

These housing units are typically smaller than traditional houses or apartments, offering either one bedroom or two bedroom units, a living area, a kitchenette or full kitchen, and a bathroom. They are designed to be easily manageable, with features such as grab bars, non-slip surfaces, and other accessibility enhancements, catering to the needs of older adults.

This article will outline the benefits and requirements when considering a move from your own home to a retirement village.

  • Benefits of Independent Living Units and Retirement Villages
  • Requirements for an Independent Living Retirement Village


Benefits of independent living units and retirement villages

Maintenance-free Living

One example of the significant advantages of retirement living units is the relief from home maintenance tasks. The community takes care of property upkeep, including maintenance and repairs, lawn care, and general upkeep, allowing residents to focus on enjoying their time rather than dealing with household chores.

Social Opportunities

Retirement villages provide a built-in social network service. Residents have the chance to connect and interact with peers who share similar interests and life experiences. Community activities, events, clubs, and outings are organised to promote socialisation and create and maintain a vibrant community atmosphere.

Amenities and Services

Like aged care homes, independent living units often offer a wide range of amenities, services and communal facilities that enhance the quality of life. Common amenities may include fitness centres, swimming pools, libraries, game rooms, theatres, on-site dining options, beauty salons, and more. These facilities contribute to an active and fulfilling lifestyle.

It’s important to note that independent living units are not intended to provide medical or personal care services. Residents in need of such support services or assistance with activities of daily living may need to explore other options, such as assisted living or nursing care facilities, which provide additional support and care services.

Safety and Security

Retirement villages prioritise the safety and security of their residents. Communities typically have safety measures in place, such as secure entrances, surveillance systems, emergency response systems, and on-site security personnel, providing peace of mind and access to aged care and residents and their families.


Living in an independent living unit provides convenience in various ways. Residents can enjoy the convenience of on-site services, such as housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and scheduled outings with friends. Additionally, these communities are often located in proximity to essential amenities and locations like shopping centers, medical facilities, and entertainment venues.

Independence and Privacy

Independent living units allow individuals to maintain their own sense of autonomy and a sense of independence. Residents have the freedom to make their own decisions, manage their daily routines, and live life on their terms.

Downsizing and Simplifying

Independent living units are often smaller and more manageable than traditional houses or apartments for older people. This downsizing opportunity can be liberating for individuals who no longer want the burden of maintaining a larger home. Its affordable housing allows for simpler living and can free up time and resources for other activities and interests.

Requirements for an Independent Living Retirement Village

The requirements for an independent living community can vary depending on the location, specific community and its policies. However, here are some common requirements you may come across:

Age Restrictions

Independent living communities for seniors often have age restrictions, typically requiring residents to be a certain age or older. The most common age requirement is 55 years or older, although some retirement living communities may have different age thresholds.

Independent Living Status

As the name suggests, independent living communities are designed for individuals who can live independently and do not require significant assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). Potential residents usually need to demonstrate that they can live on their own and take care of their personal needs.

Financial Qualifications

Some independent living communities have financial requirements, such as income or asset limitations, to ensure that eligible residents can afford to pay the associated fees and may not be suitable for people on low incomes. These fees may include monthly rent, entrance fees, or additional charges for services and amenities. Some may also have a deferred management fee and an exit fee.

Health Assessment

While independent living communities do not typically provide medical or personal care or other services, some may require a health assessment or medical clearance to ensure that residents are physically able to live independently and meet the community’s criteria.

Background Checks

Independent living and retirement villages may conduct background checks, including criminal background checks and credit checks, to ensure the safety and security of the community and its residents.

Adherence to Community Policies

Residents of retirement villages are usually expected to adhere to the rules and policies of the independent living community according to aged care services. These policies may cover various aspects such as noise levels, guest policies, pet regulations, and other community-specific guidelines.

Overall, the requirements can vary significantly from one independent living community to another. When considering a specific community, it is advisable to reach out to the community directly by phone or consult their website to obtain accurate and up-to-date information on their specific requirements, eligibility criteria, service, and application process.

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