Downsizing: Apartment or retirement village?

These days, people work long into their 60s and even 70s. Choosing to downsize is no longer something people do when they retire, it is more of a lifestyle choice.

People downsize for all sorts of reasons, whether you move to be closer to your children and grandchildren or to free up some equity to fund hobbies and travel; a lot of people find it hard to make the move. As of July 2018, you can also now contribute the proceeds from your downsizing move to your superannuation!

Once you have made the decision that it’s time to sell up, the next big decision is where you should go. There are a lot of options out there, from luxury oceanside penthouses to swish inner-city townhouses, and everything in between. Other options downsizers have are retirement villages or over 50s communities. With a lot of residents still working, these options are popular with seniors, providing a more flexible, low maintenance lifestyle. With so many options available, how do you know where to downsize to? We talked to a few people who have recently madethe move from their family homes to find out more.

Maggie and Nev Storey are residents at Halcyon Lakeside in Bli Bli on the Sunshine Coast — an active and welcoming over 50s lifestyle community. After downsizing from their family homes, the Storeys met while living at the Halcyon Waters lifestyle village back in 2007; and since they got married in 2011, they have lived in both an apartment complex and a lifestyle community.

Downsizing Maggie & Nev Storey

Maggie & Nev Storey

“The community and the facilities at Halcyon are incredible, we have a fantastic pool and over 40 different interest groups”, said Maggie.

“When we moved from Halcyon Waters to a new apartment block in Golden Beach I really missed the village, and I didn’t feel as safe living in the apartment when Nev went away.”

“At Halcyon, we know our next-door neighbours and the people across the road, we didn’t feel the same at Golden Beach. We also enjoy having a house rather than an apartment, but it is very low maintenance because Halcyon maintain most of the landscaping, we just have to look after the backyard. I think a lot of people misunderstand what lifestyle villages are all about. A lot of people here still work, and are all very active”.

Both in their 70s, the Storeys keep busy with travelling Australia pursuing their hobbies; Nev has a passion for gold prospecting and all things outback, while Maggie still competes nationally in tournament water skiing.

“We love that we can just lock up and leave the house when we go away and we don’t have to worry about it. The village has three lakes with walking tracks, a lovely coffee shop and tapas bar,” said Maggie. “There are always street parties, guest speakers or fundraisers happening. We have a communal bus that we can use if a group of us all want to go out somewhere together and not drive — it is the community aspect of village life that I love the most,” said Maggie.

Downsizing The Storeys enjoying a social event

The Storeys enjoying a social event

Another downsizer who wanted to minimise maintenance and maximise lifestyle was Ross McGregor. Having lived in Brisbane for many years, Ross wanted to stay close to his friends, but with the family grown up, he didn’t need the space anymore. Downsizing from his home in Holland Park, he purchased an off-the-plan apartment in the Sonata on Shakespeare development in the Brisbane suburb of Coorparoo.

“I wanted to have a good quality of life close to my friends and family, focusing on enjoying retirement rather than yard work. I downsized a few years before I retired and it was the best decision ever,” said Ross.

“I think the timing of downsizing is personal, and really depends on finding the right property to move into. I wanted a small, friendly complex with all owner-occupiers rather than a huge tower. I am on the top floor with views of the city and Mount Coot-tha, it’s great.”

Downsizing Halcyon Lakeside

Halcyon Lakeside

So, it seems as if, no matter the type of apartment complex or lifestyle village option you choose, there is no one size fits all. It comes down to finding the right property for you. The ultimate question then, is what should you look for when downsizing?


What do you enjoy doing? If downsizing is all about improving quality of life, make sure the property you choose enables you to take part in your favourite activities regularly.


A Pandora’s box of contradicting requirements, finding the perfect location for the next stage of life is a tricky one. Make sure you consider transport, distance from amenities, as well as family and friends.


Just how much space do you need? Will your family be coming to stay? Do you have a large coin collection or menagerie of musical instruments that you can’t bear the thought of parting with? Whether it is people or belongings, you will need space for them, so make sure you consider this when looking for a new property.


If you are moving to a new location, consider how you will meet new people and engage with the community. Whether you choose a lifestyle village with ready-made social groups for you to join, or a friendly apartment complex with other downsizers, make sure you consider how your social life will change when you move.


This will be more important to some downsizers than others. But if security is important to you, consider villages or complexes with gated security, key fob entry to lifts, doors and car parks, and onsite management.

Written: 10 October 2018, Updated: 15 January 2020

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