Lifestyle village eases housing crisis

An illustration of the Cambridge Oaks Village. Supplied photo.

A new Waikato community is helping to ease the housing crisis in places such as the Bay by adopting a global lifestyle trend towards downsizing homes for over-50s.

Cambridge Oaks, which opens November 25, will include 205 homes starting at just $249,000, helping young-at-heart over 50s free up capital while retaining an active lifestyle.

The village centre and facilities will include a library, gym, games room and motorhome carpark and wash-down area. The emphasis is on giving baby boomers the option to cash-up and live free.

Freedom Lifestyle Villages managing director Jacob Van Het Wout says the community appeals to singles and couples, still working or retired, who want to downsize so they can unlock capital and enjoy the lifestyle they've worked decades to achieve.

“A lot of our residents spent their whole lives working hard, raising families and saving for their retirements – only to have those savings and investments affected by the Global Financial Crisis,” he says. “Cambridge Oaks will allow them to free the money tied up in their family homes.”

Freedom Lifestyle Villages tested the model by developing the Papamoa Sands village in Tauranga – and was swamped by enquiries, selling all 180 homes in under three years.

Jacob says this massive demand encouraged the development of Cambridge Oaks and a third village in Matamata, which is due to open in the middle of next year.

“Sixty-five is the new young,” Jacob says. “Our residents love being able to socialise with their neighbours, but they also value being able to travel with the knowledge that they can lock up their homes and leave them behind in a safe community.”

Unlike a retirement village, Cambridge Oaks allows residents to retain legal beneficial ownership of their homes and share in capital gains should they choose to sell – and some residents at Papamoa have already made substantial capital gains on their new houses.

Cambridge Oaks also differs from a traditional retirement village in that the average age of residents is eight years younger, 25 per cent are single, and the focus is on an active “lock up and leave” lifestyle rather than end-of-life support.

Rather than host retirement-village facilities such as a medical centre, Cambridge Oaks features lifestyle-oriented facilities such as a village centre, a recreation shed, a gym and a secure motorhome carpark.

Local MP Louise Upston sees the development as great news.

“It is exciting to see all the developments in Cambridge – and particularly new residential options such as the Cambridge Oaks lifestyle village,” she says.

“One of my priorities for this term as MP for Taupo is to ensure there are great housing options in our community.

“With people moving into this new lifestyle village, existing houses are freed up for more families to buy or rent.

“This is great news for Cambridge.”

Waipa Mayor Jim Mylchreest says he is “delighted” by Cambridge Oaks.

“This is a great opportunity for people wishing to down-size from their existing homes to take advantage of a secure community environment whilst potentially freeing up capital for their retirement,” he says.

Jim says that downsizing “generally frees up existing family homes within the community that are absolutely necessary with the acute housing shortage facing New Zealand at the present time”.



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The moon peeping through the clouds at Pillans Point. Photo: Mike Berry.

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