Retirement Income

Downsizing no more: Australian over 50s want more living space and independence due to COVID-19

Downsizing no more: Australian over 50s want more living space and independence due to COVID-19

OverSixty.com.au and Downsizing.com.au, Australia’s leading over 50s property portal, recently published a research paper which finds that downsizing has a bright future in the post-COVID-19 era.

Informed by consumer surveys and other consumer search data, the paper finds that:

  • COVID-19 has educated consumers about the disadvantages of being isolated in their existing neighbourhood and conversely the benefits of living with friends and community managers in a dedicated downsizing development.
  • Downsizers are likely to be increasingly looking for developments with more personal space, either within or around the home, along with their own parking spot so they do not need to rely on public transport 
  • Downsizers have become more footloose and are increasingly attracted to areas which have been less impacted by COVID-19, such as regional areas, or want to move closer to family and friends.
  • Irrespective of the COVID-19 economic dip, over 50s remain in a strong position to fund a retirement living purchase as they have enjoyed years or decades of capital growth in their family home value.
  • Downsizers have also been motivated to move due to the fact they’ve been increasingly exposed to the maintenance and other chores of their existing family home while being forced indoors due to the COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 has educated potential downsizers about the benefits of looking for, and inspecting, homes online

According to the survey of Australian over 50s:

  • Around one in three people are more likely to downsize because of COVID-19, with key motivations including being able to move to a like-minded community and reducing maintenance chores
  • 54% say two or more bedrooms are essential, up from 48% in a survey undertaken before COVID-19
  • 56% regard garages and 54% regard parking spots as essential - both of these ranked below 50% in a pre-COVID-19 survey
  • On the flipside, only 38% want to be close to public transport, down from around 45% in the pre-COVID-19 survey.
  • Only 16% said it was essential they stayed in the same area, down from 18% in our pre-COVID-19 survey
  • Of the people who are more likely to move due to COVID-19, around 20 per cent are doing this to move out of a crowded environment.
  • More than one in three survey respondents were interested in downsizing in Queensland, despite the fact that only one in four were actually based in the State, in line with increased search activity for this State on our website
Downsizing.com.au co-CEO Amanda Graham said the survey showed that downsizing and retirement living was emerging from the COVID-19 with a strengthened value proposition.

“We can see in this survey how COVID-19 has accelerated many over 50s housing trends already underway, including a desire for independent living and greater space and transport autonomy,” Ms Graham said.

“In addition, COVID-19 has encouraged people to move to new areas, which they perceive as being safe but also where they can find new friends and enjoy a great lifestyle.

“During COVID-19, we have also really seen a very strong structural shift to consumer search activity on digital channels.”

Ms Graham said downsizers are proving to be a resilient residential property market segment during COVID-19, given they have accumulated significant home equity throughout their working lives and are now keen to achieve a better lifestyle and boost their retirement income.

The report was written by Mark Skelsey on Downsizing.com.au and includes a foreword from the Retirement Living Council’s Executive Director Ben Myers (the report was produced independently of the Retirement Living Council).

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