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First census on retirement living offers critical insights

The most comprehensive survey ever undertaken of Australia’s retirement village sector has revealed invaluable insights into an increasingly important part of Australia’s housing landscape.

The 2015 PwC/Property Council Retirement Census busts the myth that villages are gated communities for the rich and powerful and shows that villages in fact provide affordable housing for pensioners, particularly single women, with an average age of 81.

Download the PwC/Property Council Retirement Census headline findings

Until now, there has been a paucity of hard data on housing for older Australians despite the significant demographic changes underway in Australia as identified in the Federal Government’s last Intergenerational Report, which found the number of Australians aged 65 and over is projected to more than double by 2054-55.

This new annual census, the first of its kind to plug the large data gap, provides critical intelligence to governments and the private sector about the market for age-adaptive housing. It is comprised of rich data from big and small operators across the industry representing more than 50 000 homes in retirement villages in Australia.

There are more than 2300 retirement villages in Australia, and more senior Australians choosing to downsize than ever before. Retirement communities are a popular choice, as they are cheaper than median priced homes in the same area, and allow older Australians to unlock home equity as well as live happily in houses designed to support physical independence and social interaction.

Despite their popularity, and the fact that more aging Australians live in retirement communities than in aged care facilities, governments know very little about these communities or the people who live in them.

The PwC/Property Council Retirement Census is a private sector initiative to inform government as well as investors, and proves that retirement villages are a critical part of Australia’s social fabric.

Key findings from the 2015 PwC/Property Council Retirement Census:

  • Two thirds of all village residents are female, with the largest demographic being single females (51 per cent) followed by couples (36 per cent) and single males (13 per cent);
  • The average resident enters a village at 74 years of age, the average age of residents is 81 and the average length of stay is 7 years;
  • The average 2 bedroom retirement village dwelling costs $385,000 (68 per cent of the cost of the median house price);
  • The average monthly service fee, covering the cost of common village facilities, services and staff, is $434 (just over 25 per cent of the monthly pension for full single pensioners); and
  • Villages have a very high occupancy rate of 91 per cent on average across the country.

“Retirement villages support the universal desire of older Australians to stay independent and socially engaged,” says Mary Wood, the Property Council’s Executive Director – Retirement Living.

“They provide a supportive environment for people whose health is declining, who can no longer maintain or afford their large family home, or have lost their spouse.

“The data in this census can be relied upon by state and federal governments, whose decisions about regulation and age pension rules strongly affect the future of the seniors’ housing market around the country.”

PwC Real Estate Advisory Director Tony Massaro said, “Before this initiative there was limited baseline data around village level metrics for both for profit and not for profit villages.”

“It is vital for the sector to thrive – to deliver good quality housing and services to ageing Australians, a demographic that is growing in numbers and sophistication.”

“This census aims to help governments, investors, regulators and customers make better decisions while working to grow the sector.”

More information on the PwC/Property Council Retirement Census can be found at