Which model of 55+ living makes better financial sense: Paying monthly rent to a “retirement” home or investing in an equity preserving Life Lease? Most will agree that the latter is a smarter choice for people looking to downsize or move to the next stage of living.
BY GARY ZOCK
Looking ahead to your next chapter in life can be stressful and exciting at the same time. Probably one of the most stressful aspects is where to live and when to move. Many people approaching this change in their lives are faced with the choice between staying in their home, downsizing to a condo, moving to a retirement home or community, or moving in with grown children.
Much of the decision depends on each individual’s situation. Are there health issues? Is care required? Will my existing home become too much of a burden to maintain? Is mobility a consideration? What if one spouse requires care?
But like everything in life, planning can make things a lot easier in the long run. Having to make difficult decisions when you are up against the wall is not a formula for the best results. It’s far better to think these things through from a position of strength and ability rather than wait until you are forced to decide when there are pressing challenges. Most people wait far too long to make these important decisions and are then forced to accept a living option, which is not ideal or to their liking.
Life Lease communities are becoming increasingly popular in Ontario. There are currently more than 450 Life Lease communities across Canada, as well as many successful projects in the United States and Great Britain. Ontario alone has more than 150 Life Lease communities!
We thought it would be helpful to compare this option to renting, and show you some of the advantages that a Life Lease community can offer residents.
1. The entire community is geared towards 55+
Life Lease developments have common areas and amenities that are geared specifically towards 55+ residents, and are designed for residents to age-in-place. At The Village at St. Elizabeth Mills, there are almost 100 programs and events that you can participate in and enjoy. At our new Upper Mill Pond, residents can indulge in amenities like a Health & Wellness Club, which features an indoor pool, men’s and women’s saunas, therapy and treatment room, fitness centre, and movement and dancing studio and more. There is also a spacious lounge and library with café/juice bar where you can enjoy socializing with neighbours and friends. In addition, a special events room with kitchen facilities provides space for both public and private events for up to 80 people – you can book this for your next private party!
2. You can build equity and can enjoy financial flexibility
Under a Life Lease Plan, you purchase the “right” to occupy your suite for as long as you wish, and have the option to transfer this “right” to your family through your Will. Your family can then decide to retain your suite for their retirement. Should you or your Estate wish to sell your suite, you can transfer this “right” back to another qualifying purchaser and you will receive the current market value of your suite less a 5% transfer and administrative fee. In a nutshell: You will be able to protect your investment and earn a return similar to the equity growth in your home or condominium.
3. Greater cash flow
With a Market Value Life Lease Plan, you don’t have to worry about real estate commissions or other expenses associated with the traditional purchasing and selling of property. All you need is your down payment and enough cash flow to cover the monthly cost of your suite. This frees-up the bulk of your savings to use as you wish – for travel, other investments, etc. You can pay for your Market Value Life Lease outright and have no monthly mortgage costs, or obtain financing for up to 65% of the purchase price or value of your suite.
4. Monthly costs are kept to a minimum
With a Life Lease Plan, you pay a low Monthly Occupancy Fee, (comparable to traditional “condo” fees in the Hamilton market) which covers the costs of building maintenance, insurance, management, and lifestyle services. These fees are set by a not-forprofit corporation, NovaCare Retirement Communities Association, with input from a Residents’ Association – all with the goal to keep the operating costs as low as possible.
As a pioneer in both the development and management of more than 75 Market Value Life Lease projects in Ontario (representing over 5,000 units), Gary Zock is considered the leading industry expert in the Life Lease field. Mr. Zock has consulted and advised many government agencies including the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. He brings 30 plus years of experience in this very specialized area and is a great asset as the Project Manager for Upper Mill Pond.