By Rami Kamel, Chief Operating Officer Ryman Healthcare Australia
Retirement living has long been surrounded by misconceptions that paint a limited, often grim picture. However, as the landscape of senior living evolves, so do the realities within these communities.
Let’s dispel some common myths that might hinder people from exploring the vibrant possibilities of retirement living because one of the most common things I hear is “I wish I had made the move sooner”.
Myth #1: It’s too expensive – only rich people can afford it
Contrary to popular belief, retirement communities cater to a diverse range of budgets. While some offer luxurious amenities, others provide affordable yet comfortable living arrangements. From cosy apartments to spacious villas and penthouses, retirement communities actually provide an affordable option for older Australians with entry prices on average 48% lower than median house prices in similar areas – at a national average of $516,000 per unit. 
Furthermore, at Ryman our weekly fees are fixed for residents for the entire duration of their occupancy, meaning unlike our continually growing interest rates, residents know exactly what they’ll be paying from the day they move in.
Myth #2: The food is terrible – I don’t want hospital-style dinners served at 5 pm!
Gone are the days of bland, monotonous meals. Modern retirement communities boast culinary experiences that rival high-end restaurants. Skilled chefs, like Lawrence Manohara-Seelan at our Nellie Melba village craft diverse menus featuring fresh, flavourful dishes served at flexible hours, ensuring residents enjoy satisfying meals tailored to their tastes. Think crispy chicken and mango salad or a decadent helping of Jambalaya.
We also regularly hold fine dining events where everyone frocks up for a lavish three-course meal expertly matched with some of Australia’s finest wines.
Myth #3: I’m fit and healthy and these places are for old folks who can’t look after themselves at home
Retirement communities today celebrate vitality and independence. They offer a range of activities and amenities designed to engage active residents. From fitness classes and excursions to creative workshops and communal gardens, these communities foster an environment where individuals can thrive and continue pursuing their passions.
Furthermore, this type of move reduces the burden of home maintenance and daily chores, freeing up time, money, and resources for residents to focus on their wellbeing and personal interests, which in turn can improve health outcomes no matter residents’ level of fitness, and reduce reliance on allied and emergency health services.
Myth #4: I want to keep traveling the world, not be stuck in a retirement village
Far from confining residents, retirement communities actually make it easier to travel whenever you want. Residents can explore new horizons at their leisure, knowing they can simply lock and leave and everything will be taken care of while they’re away. We have onsite security and home maintenance which means there’s no need to arrange timed lights, or a neighbour/relative to check your mail and water your garden or plants – that’s all done for you in a village. So, you can take off for three days, three weeks or three months!
Retirement communities are launching pads for adventures, not barriers to travel.
Myth #5: I’m an animal lover and I could never live anywhere without my pet
Recognising the importance of companionship, many retirement communities now embrace pets. From designated pet-friendly areas to grooming services and even community pet events, these places welcome furry and feathery friends, understanding the vital role they play in residents’ lives.
The therapeutic benefits of pet ownership are far from anecdotal, with research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology among hundreds of studies to find older pet owners have greater self-esteem, are fitter, less lonely and more socially outgoing.
Retirement living isn’t what it used to be, especially as models such as Ryman’s continuum of care – where independent living, serviced apartments and aged care are all on one site in a campus style – have been introduced into the Australian market.
Retirement living now means freedom, fun and a full life where people are surrounded by peers and opportunities for growth and adventure.
They are not the end of a chapter but rather the beginning of an exciting new phase filled with camaraderie, enrichment, and boundless opportunities for those seeking to live life to the fullest.
 Property Council (2022); IBISWorld, Retirement Communities in Australia (2023)