Silver threads among the old deliver retirement gilt 18 July 2008, Jonathan Dart, Sydney Morning Herald
GRAHAM STONE, 65, was living in a Gold Coast apartment when he opted for something more glamorous: a Sydney retirement village.
It is not as strange as it sounds. Mr Stone and his wife chose a five-star Greenwich village where apartments sell for up to $2.75 million, the chef used to work at London's Savoy Hotel, and residents flock to the piano bar on Friday nights.
Mr Stone is part of a "grey tsunami" challenging patterns of retirement living.
Most of the 3.4 million Australians older than 45 and planning to retire will do so within 15 years, the Bureau of Statistics has reported.
But unlike previous generations, the baby boomers are cashed up and ready to spend their money, said the demographer Bernard Salt.
That will mean many more places like Waterbrook in Greenwich, which was officially opened recently. It is the second project of its kind in NSW and bills itself as the pinnacle of retirement living in Australia.
It includes a beautician, a masseuse and a hair salon; it has a putting green, heated pool, gym, spa, snooker room, library and 36-seat cinema.
Each unit has a kitchen but at the village restaurant the head chef is Adamo Maisano, formerly of the Savoy.
And then there's the piano bar. "Everyone gets down to the Friday night happy hour," Mr Stone said.
The lifestyle does not come cheap. It costs between $1 million and $2.75 million to buy a property in the village - ranging from two-bedroom units to the penthouse - plus maintenance costs.
But if Waterbrook's managing director, Kevin Ryan, is changing how the view of retirement villages, he prefers not to say so: "We like to refer to ourselves as a 'lifestyle resort'."
That makes Mr Salt chuckle. "The word retirement will become politically incorrect in 10 years," he said.
"What we're really talking about here is the emergence of a group of people who are going to have a huge amount of economic clout, a generation built on consumerism.
"What you're going to see in the next 10 to 20 years is the mother lode of downshifters from Ku-ring-gai or Hornsby or the eastern suburbs, who sell their house for around $1.8 million to help finance their lifestyle."
In a fluctuating real estate market, the change will offer some stability. A Jones Lang LaSalle report last year estimated there were 1721 retirement villages nationally, and 300 planned or being built.
"It's the biggest growth sector in the property industry," said the chief executive of the Retirement Village Association, Jane Holdsworth. "And we're still yet to see that great bulk [of boomers] move into retirement."
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