Tuesday, November 12, 2013


A retirement village in Australia - the model for retirement villages in Malaysia and Singapore

Retirees in Singapore must be feeling on top of the world to hear the good news. In a few years time, they will have the option of moving to the republic's first purpose-built retirement village. For decades, senior citizens here have been clamoring for a retirement village built along the same lines as those in Australia and the US. It looks like their patience and persistence have finally paid off.

The demand for retirement homes and villages has been growing especially in the the last 10 years. But private housing developers have long been reluctant to take on such projects because the Singapore government will only grant a 60-year lease on the land, effectively putting a ceiling on their ROI and on plans for further expansion.

The smiles say it all. (Photo: Straits Times)

That was the situation until last November when property developer World Class Land (WCL), a subsidiary of jewellery group Aspial Corp won the tender for the 10,170 sq m plot of land located in Jalan Jurong Kechil earmarked for residential development. It had offered close to S$75m for the plot. WCL have since confirmed they will be building a retirement village complete with elder-friendly facilities and services. The company has five years to complete the project, which means Singapore's first retirement village should be opening its doors to the first residents by November 2017 or earlier.

Better late than never, as Singapore has one of the fastest ageing populations in the world. By 2020, the small nation will have 600,000 senior citizens aged 65 and above - up from 352,000 in 2011.

What about Malaysia? There will be 2.2 million people aged 65 and above by 2020. This is 7.5% of the country’s population. What housing options are there for retirees who are still active, independent and living alone or with their spouse? Let me share what I know.

Green Leaf Retirement Resort was very much in the news last year when it won the Best Concept for Retirement Development at HSBC's International Property Awards (Asia Pacific Region) 2012. However, as far as I know, work has yet to commence on the plot of land in Sepang. 

Over in the Ara Damansara area, work has begun on AraGreen Residences. The company behind this project is HSB Development, the same company behind the successful Menara HSC in Jalan Ampang, which also houses the HSC Medical Centre. AraGreen is marketed as a 'multi-generational residential sanctuary'.

Artist's impression of Ara Green Multi-Generational Residences

Sri Seronok Retirement Village, Cheras, KL

There are 30 linked units each comprising a living room, bedroom and kitchen built around a courtyard. Completed in 1988, it is reputed to be the first retirement village for active and independent senior citizens. It offers an alternative housing option to singles or couples, who value quiet and privacy in their old age. Residents pay rent, and despite a lack of advertising, all units are taken and there is a long list of people waiting to move in. I visited my aunt there years ago. I like the place. Facilities are basic but if peace and quiet, freedom of movement and pleasant surroundings are what you want, then Sri Seronok is ideal. But it is a misnomer to call it a retirement village.

Sri Seronok - affordable retirement living amidst pleasant and safe surroundings

Green Acres Retirement Village, Meru, Ipoh
This project comprises 120 units of single-storey villas in a gated and guarded community. Expected launch is end of 2013 or beginning of 2014. Developer Total Investment Group are targeting retirees from the middle income bracket. Each of the 650 -1,000 sq ft unit is priced from RM300,000.

Mont Kiara is one neighborhood that already has all the facilities and services to make it ideal for retirement community living. It has a small shopping mall with a supermarket, plenty of restaurants, two clinics, a dry cleaners, an activity centre for children and even a police station! Unlike other housing estates, Mont Kiara has its own 24-hour security patrol and a free shuttle bus service for residents. The route covers Mont Kiara - Publika - KL Sentral, Mondays to Saturdays.

Free shuttle bus for Mont Kiara residents and Publika shoppers

Jeta Care Kulai, Johor.

This is more of a mixed ageing-in-place and nursing home facility. There are plans to open up more centres in other states. Hopefully, there will be one based on the model of Jeta Gardens in Australia which is marketed as 'a unique retirement lifestyle, where east meets west'.

Jeta Care, Kulai. (Photo: NST)

What's in the offing for the near future? 

Recently I attended a conference on "Aged Care: Empowering the Elderly II" organized by the Australian High Commission here in Kuala Lumpur. A number of established Australian retirement home operators and developers have partnered with local aged care companies to build retirement villages in Malaysia. Here are a few that were mentioned at the conference. The images are screen grabs of the slide presentations at the conference.

Eden-on-the-Park, Kuching. Developers: Optimum Healthcare Asia Pacific. Expected date of completion: 2015

Waterbrook Malaysia (based on Waterbrook Australia's concept)

From the drawing board of Veritas Architects, there are several projects in the pipeline, including The Peak at Gita Bayu, Selangor and Sungai Pulai Eco Resort and Retirement Village in Johor.

The time is right for housing developers to step in, given the rising demand for retirement housing. Retired baby boomers are not ready to move into nursing homes yet. They are still active and financially independent. Many live alone, either because they never married, or have lost their spouse. Given the option of moving in with their adult children or living in a retirement community, many would choose the latter.
They want to live an active lifestyle in a community environment that comes with elder-friendly facilities and services, and most important of all, an on-site management committee that keeps a watchful eye on quality maintenance of the place and that has in place a well-organized program of activities for the residents.

There is definitely a ready market for retirement resort/community living. With several projects due to launch or already in progress, it is a race to see which one is first past the finishing line to earn the title of Malaysia's first retirement village. If it has everything that a baby boomer retiree is looking for, and the price is right, the units will be snapped up in no time.


Unknown said...

I'm thinking about moving into a retirement village next year. There are so many to chose from here on the Gold Coast and all very desirable. Decisions, decisions...

Jim bond said...

As many supported the retirement village plan residing in malaysia promoted and approve by both countries. Hence my question is will government arrange the same benefit as we are all singaporean thru embassy or etc for those that supported the retirement village and already resided there will have the equal privilege like us in siNgapore to get vaccination at appointed hospital in malaysia or embassy arrangement?