The conversations of life

Could retirement villages be the answer to affordable housing for older women?


With the rate of home ownership going down across Australia, the demand for social housing has never been higher – and retirement village operators are filling the gap, with a retirement village planned for the western Sydney suburb of Richmond the latest to promise to include social housing units.

The $70 million village being planned by the Richmond Club would include 120 to 140 independent living units. Plans for the development are still being finalised, but Club CEO Kimberley Talbot says she hopes a percentage of the units will be dedicated to affordable housing.

They are not the only village operator to cater for residents who can’t afford to buy into a village.

Affordable options for all

The Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria will spend nearly $27 million on new independent living units at two of its retirement villages in Melbourne – which it says is designed to cut their waiting list of 583 people – that’s around six years.

Anglicare’s new village and aged care development Rooty Hill which will see some of its 160 retirement units reserved for affordable housing.

They are measures that are badly needed.

While traditionally young people and families have been the ‘face’ of homelessness, data shows it is now older women who are most likely to end up homeless, often due to lack of superannuation, wage gaps, divorce and family breakdown.

The number of older women contacting homeless agencies has grown a huge 52 per cent since 2011 according to a 2017 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report – that’s about 12,000 women in need of help.

As a woman and lifelong renter, I do worry about where I will be living in my retirement so it’s great to see village operators doing their bit to ensure we can all have secure housing as we get older.

Lauren Broomham

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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