Rich Living at an Affordable Price

Easy Living Villages

Since 1992, Easy Living Villages has made a family matter of providing incredible lifestyle options for Victoria’s visitors and over-55 crowd through the development of high quality, feature rich manufactured housing options with access to fantastic onsite features and facilities.

The idea of Easy Living Villages began with a single site, called Park Lane Caravan Park, which Graeme and Christine Hellings purchased in 1992 and quickly began improving, expanding, and developing to provide great living experiences for its residents.

Over time, Graeme shifted the focus of the park to include manufactured homes and year-round residency, a trend that continues to this day at Easy Living Villages retirement living parks. Today, the company boasts four lifestyle villages, including Green Acres at Traralgon, Mayfair Gardens at Traralgon, Parklands at Shepparton, and Sandhurst Rise at Bendigo.

The family’s second park was built to meet the needs of tourists to the Victoria area looking for both a relaxing venue with opportunities for family fun.

Joshua Hellings, General Manager and son of Graeme and Chris, discusses the value of diversifying into the tourism market and what it means for residents, guests, and the company. “The tourism market has been expanded and is doing very well,” he says, “so much so that we bought another park in another part of Victoria and have expanded and improved that by developing a huge play centre which is bringing in the family market, which is more or less our target market these days.”

This diversification supports the growth and operating costs of running the villages, provides residents and visitors with a great suite of features, and promotes the continued growth and development of the business. “We run with two brands, reflecting both aspects of the villages and the parks – the Park Lane holiday parks and the Easy Living villages for the retirement side.”

Currently, all but one of the group’s parks/villages offers dual branding. The Shepparton Village, in the final stages of development, will remain purely a village.

Three years ago, the company began development of a holiday park purchased in Bendigo, which today boasts both holiday and residential facilities and impressive development designed to appeal to the family traveller, including a massive children’s play structure. Further development plans include the construction of 90 additional sites.

The team’s most recent project at the Shepparton site began two years ago and is currently in the final stages of development. The Shepparton site already included nearly 50 sites when purchased. With the new blocks nearly completed, the first sites have already been sold. “We’re expanding it out and developing that with the intention of it becoming a fully residential village,” shares Joshua.

The company’s focus and philosophy has always revolved around providing a high quality customer experience and ensuring that residents and visitors see value for their dollar. Since 2003, Luke Hellings has also been closely involved with the family business and for the last five years has led the construction development aspect of the company, showcasing a heavy focus on quality material and workmanship by including unique and special features in Easy Living Villages manufactured homes and facilities.

Many of the company’s homes include luxury features such as step-less showers and stone benchtops, among other features. “We’ve really lifted that part of the business, and in doing so we are able to achieve better features but keep it at an affordable level,” says Luke.

Easy Living Villages and Park Lane Holiday Parks offer a unique set of features that have proven to be very attractive to home buyers and visitors to the region alike. Residents benefit from the “complete package” philosophy the company encourages. When residents purchase a home, their landscaping is completed and they have their own garages, as well as access to all onsite facilities. “We offer community halls with barbeque areas, theatre, and gyms, which vary by village, but we’re constantly working on improving what’s available at each of the villages,” shares Joshua.

The structures of the company’s parks and villages have been designed with simplicity in mind. Buyers have the peace of mind that comes with clearly understanding their monthly expenses and all services, such as water, electricity, and garbage collection are all wrapped neatly into one regular monthly fee.

Graeme Hellings, Founder of the business, expresses the importance of residents understanding their expenses and retaining the value of the investment made in their new home. “The other important thing that we don’t have, is that we don’t do deferred management costs or exit fees, which many villages charge upwards of 20 per cent,” he explains. “That is astronomical when residents decide to sell; we ensure that residents enjoy the benefit of the increased value that they will over time achieve.”

Graeme identifies many successes through the years but is most proud of the tight-knit, family nature of the company he has worked so hard to nurture and grow. With his sons, Joshua and Luke now ready to take a stronger leadership role, Graeme is excited about what the future holds for the company. “The whole line of my business work is to have my two twin sons find their way into the business – and both have found their path.” With nearly 25 years of history behind them, the Hellings have shown that they are committed to providing amazing experience for their home owners and guests. “Luke and I are now stepping in and slowly taking over with the intent to be here for the long haul,” explains Joshua.

The Hellings also understand that operating a long running family owned business can be a major selling point for buyers wary of the stability of retirement village living. One of the fears many prospective buyers have is that a lack of stability of ownership could mean the loss of a major investment and home. “Because it is our family business with a continuation of ownership, we can really highlight the fact that we are here for the long term, not to make a quick buck and leave. That can become a selling point to people who are feeling concerned about this type of facility.”

As for the future, Joshua expects to see continued growth and the development of more parks and villages to come. A strong mix of dedicated holiday parks and villages will become apparent, as the two business streams support and complement each other well. “One has quite strong stability and is relatively simple from a management point of view, while the other is quite challenging from a management point of view because it doesn’t have that stability, but certainly has strong profitability that can support growth,” he explains.

The future also promises a “changing of the guard” of sorts, as the younger Hellings take even more responsibility for the direction of the company that Graeme and Chris began more than twenty years ago. The company will continue to flourish through the implementation of the same attention to quality and resident experience as it always has. “We’ve grown up watching the way things are done and learning from that, so we share the same philosophy, but have fresh ideas and will embrace new technologies,” says Joshua.

Moving forward, the team plans to implement emerging technologies in an innovative fashion to add even greater value for residents and to continue to develop new and efficient methods of growth, construction, and management. With the ongoing development of new and exciting facilities and features, residents and guests can be sure that they will always have access to the best experience possible, and with the ability to see the growth in the value of their homes, they can rest assured that they have made the right choice for their families.

With more than twenty years of experience in the industry, Easy Living Villages truly is Australia’s leader in retirement lifestyle living and has created a package that is very attractive to many looking for retirement village living.

Joshua and Luke look forward to taking over the reins from their parents and steering the company in the coming years; with their leadership, residents can rest assured that Easy Living Villages has a great deal more to offer them in the future.

For more information about Easy Living Villages, please visit http://easylivingvillages.com.au/.

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