As you get older it’s natural to want to simplify your life and get back to basics. This especially comes into play when considering your retirement options. Deciding on where and how you want to live out the final chapter of your life is exciting and, for many, a move to a relocatable home village is the ultimate tree or sea change.
It may be that you choose the simplest living option for yourself, whilst living off the fruits of a well-planned property portfolio. Or you just really want a small, clutter free space, that can be packed up and moved on, as you choose, to wherever you like. Whatever the reasons, there are certainly advantages to life in a relocatable home, but it is not without its risks. It’s essential to understand your rights and responsibilities before committing to this lifestyle.
The primary attraction to owning a relocatable home is in the name – the fact that its relocatable. This gives you freedom to spend your retirement in a variety of places, however legislation varies from state to state and what happens in one relocatable home village in Queensland may be totally different to how things are done in Victoria or Western Australia for example.
The best option is to do your research and the state Residential Tenancies Authority, Tenants Union or Consumer Affairs is always a good place to start. Search for relocatable home, moveable dwelling or transportable home and in most cases, you will find good general information about tenancies, relocatable home villages, residential parks and more, with a focus on what the state legislation is that protects you as well as what your responsibilities are as an owner and a tenant. Read the fine print though – in some cases if the structure/home is registered as a motor vehicle, it cannot be protected under a residential tenancy agreement. In this case you should talk to the local Road Transport Authority, (for example VicRoads in Victoria or the MVR in the Northern Territory).
The home itself may be mobile such as a caravan, RV or boat. Or it may be a structure that can be moved on a truck such as an old chapel, a demountable, or a prefabricated tiny home. Unlike a house and land package, a relocatable home lifestyle means that you own the physical structure that you live in, but you will rent the land that you place it on, usually located within a purpose-built facility such as a caravan park, residential village or relocatable home village. This is really important to remember because unlike a traditional home, as soon as you are handed the keys, you need to find a place to put your new home!
Of course, flexibility and freedom are the main advantages of this lifestyle and these are the key priorities when considering your retirement options, however, the do come with some limitations.
Most parks and villages make a distinction between residents, based on their length of stay. A ‘resident’ or ‘site tenant’ will be someone who owns their own home and rents the land on a long-term basis. A holiday stay for one summer does not give you resident credentials for example and, in most cases, the document you will sign to lease the land will differ depending on your length and purpose of stay.
In general, a resident will have signed a site agreement with the owners of the park or village, much like a residential lease agreement, but with information specific to the land they are renting, the time period they will stay and the facilities that come with it such as bathrooms, bbqs, swimming pools. rubbish removal and car spaces.
Location may also impact on how secure your future is in that space. If you choose or are allocated a short-term space, you may be asked to change locations as the high season approaches to make way for holidaymakers paying the higher seasonal rates. Or, in a worst-case scenario, parks or villages in prime locations may get a better offer from developers and your tiny patch suddenly becomes a hot commodity for a modern holiday apartment complex, well outpricing the rent you pay from week to week.
Relocatable home villages are usually on the edge of small towns and cities, in most cases amongst picturesque surrounds and with great views if you get one of the prime spots. This means you have your own tiny piece of paradise, but if the home is on wheels – such as a caravan, an RV or a mobile home - you may then be restricted where transport is concerned. You can have the car or the home but not necessarily both!
The important things to understand with regard to a relocatable home lifestyle are what your rights and responsibilities are regarding the type of structure you own and knowing the details of the site agreement before you sign it. The park or village owners have responsibilities to maintain the facilities you are paying rent for, just like a landlord but the nature of a village environment means there may be grey areas. If you intend to stay in a village long term, it’s well worth getting the site agreement looked over by a professional. In many cases there is a consideration period before signing and a cooling off period after so you have time to review it before committing.
In any case issues can always arise, even for the best prepared. Knowing in advance who you are protected by (residential or vehicle authority) is crucial. Being thoroughly informed will ensure the hassle free lifestyle you most desire is realised, so you can relax and enjoy your retirement – wherever that may be.
Have you spent any time in a relocatable home village? Share your experience with our readers.