arrow_backBack What is the difference between aged care and a retirement village?

What is the difference between aged care and a retirement village?

General Interest

Considering a lifestyle change as you enter the next chapter in your life? An important part of the planning process involves deciding whether a retirement village or aged care is a better fit for your needs.

While the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, the truth is that retirement villages and aged care facilities are designed for people at different stages of life with different needs.

What is a retirement village?

Retirement villages are communities built specifically to serve the needs and lifestyles of older adults. They offer a variety of housing options such as units, villas and apartments, which are typically designed to facilitate safe, independent living. Retirement villages tend to emphasise the lifestyle and social aspects of senior living, and often provide a range of amenities for residents to enjoy, such as gymnasiums, swimming pools, libraries, crafts rooms, bowling greens and more.

Retirement villages are primarily self-care and are therefore suited to people who are fully capable of living independently. While some villages provide access to healthcare, 24-hour ‘on call’ assistance and additional support services, they typically do not offer round-the-clock medical care.

What is residential aged care?

Aged care providers, sometimes referred to as nursing homes, rest homes or residential care facilities, are designed for people who require a higher level of support. They provide comfortable living arrangements, along with full-time care and support from trained caregivers and registered nurses.

What is assisted living?

Assisted living enables older adults to live as independently as possible while providing them with the support needed for a safe, healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. Assisted living provides residents with a helping hand with their day-to-day activities, such as cleaning, cooking, shopping, personal care and medication management. Some retirement villages offer optional assisted living services, allowing residents to access a higher level of personalised care as their needs change.

Entry criteria

To enter a retirement village, residents usually need to meet a minimum age requirement and sign a private agreement contract with the village. Depending on the village’s entry requirements, residents may also need to demonstrate that they are capable of living independently.

Aged care facilities have much stricter requirements. To enter a care facility, a needs assessment must be conducted by a District Health Board assessor, who determines the level of care that the person requires. The person must be aged 65 or over, or aged between 50 and 64 with no spouse or dependent children, and eligible for publicly funded health and disability services.


Retirement villages and aged care facilities are separate industries and are subject to completely different sets of rules and regulations.

Retirement villages must operate according to the Retirement Villages Act and Regulations, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of village operators, residents and intending residents. Villages must be registered with the Registrar of Retirement Villages, which is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Residential aged care facilities are regulated by the Ministry of Health and must operate according to the laws set out in the Residential Care and Disability Support Services Act 2018.


There are significant differences in the way retirement villages and aged care facilities are funded.

There are no government subsidies or funding available for purchasing a unit in a retirement village. It’s typically a self-funded venture, which for most people means relying on their savings and superannuation. Entry payments, weekly fees and village contributions vary substantially from village to village, so it’s important to ask questions and ensure you fully understand your financial obligations before making any decisions.

Aged care facilities are funded by district health boards. If you or a loved one are eligible for residential care, you may be entitled to funding under the Residential Care and Disability Support Services Act 2018. A financial means assessment, which looks at a person’s assets and income, is used to determine funding eligibility.

Contact the best retirement village in Christchurch

In summary, retirement villages are best suited to seniors who want to maintain a social, independent lifestyle in a community of like-minded people. Retirement villages are typically self-funded and are open to independent individuals who meet the minimum age requirement.

Aged care is for people who require a higher level of care and medical support. Aged care facilities have needs-based entry criteria and are funded by district health boards.

If you’re looking for the best retirement village in Christchurch, we encourage you to visit us here at Holly Lea Village. With elegant residences, stunning communal amenities and a wide range of personalised care services, we provide everything you need for a vibrant retirement lifestyle. To learn more, contact us today on 03 351 7764.


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