Haig, R. ‘Small Change to Plans for Retirement,’ The West Australian, June 14, 2008, p. 12.

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A new concept in retirement living unique to Australia, the Senior Mini Village, is being developed in selected suburbs in the Perth metropolitan area.

Conceived by WA-based development and design consultants, Seniors Realty Group, the mini village differs from more conventional over-55s retirement villages by reducing its size to clusters of two to five homes, offering freehold rather than leasehold and allowing clients to have a voice in design and location.

“Senior Mini Villages will be the future trend of retirement living in Australia and will certainly change the way seniors look at their accommodation and retirement living needs,” predicted SRG spokesman Peter Dean.

“The concept allows seniors to dictate to us what they want, instead of us telling them.”

Mr. Dean was appointed by the State Government in 1999 as an ambassador for the International Year of Seniors, and is passionate about helping and protecting seniors. He has been actively involved with the Seniors Realty Group since its inception in 2005.

The Mini Village idea is the result of extensive research by the group over 18 months to analyse the best options available for seniors throughout WA.

“We investigated the types of housing options available, suitable village locations, purchase prices, management fees, departure fees, ownership structure, internal designs and group sizes,” Mr. Dean said.

“The overriding message to emerge from our research was that seniors preferred to own their home outright because this provided financial independence and allowed homeowners freedom to make their own decisions. What’s more, after paying off their own mortgage over a 25 to 30-year period and owning their home outright, the last thing our research respondents wanted was to lease their next home, particularly as it was likely to be their last main move in a lifetime.”

Plans are under way to build Mini Villages in Dianella, Yokine, Madeley and Mandurah.

Prices range from $440,000 in Madeley and Mandurah to $575,000 in Dianella and Yokine, inclusive of stamp duty and settlement fees. No deposit is required.

Others are planned for Wilson, North Perth, Gosnells, Ardross and Maylands. Prices for these will be available next month.

Areas are chosen to match the needs of prospective buyers who have submitted expressions of interest.

In some instances, this favours retirees who might wish to be with friends and remain in a familiar suburb.

“A Senior Mini Village can be established in around 70 percent of suburbs within the metropolitan area where city or shire councils allow higher-density living,” Mr Dean said.

The firm seeks out either vacant land for the building site or, more commonly, older homes to be demolished.

Seniors Realty Group plans each purpose-built village in consultation with clients to establish areas of commonality and customised requests, such as size and numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms.

External and internal finishes can vary according to needs. Wheelchair access, oversize passageways and grab rails can be added, or extra parking for a caravan or boat.

Each mini village comes with electric front gates, video intercom and medical alert. Landscaped gardens, brick paving, floor coverings and window treatments are also included.

Owners pay their own shire and water rates and there are no entry, exit or management fees. Maintenance of common areas, such as the grounds or electronic security gates, is by negotiation between owners.

Construction time for each village is estimated about 12 months.

Seniors Realty Group organises everything, from finding suitable sites to planning, design and construction and also co-ordinates the sale of clients’ homes to coincide with the completion of their new homes.