Downsizing means moving to a house with a smaller sized dwelling and/or monetary value. For the purposes of this study, a reduction in the number of bedrooms is used as a proxy for downsizing in analysing ABS and other survey data. The study involved analysis of relevant ABS data and a national questionnaire survey of 2819 older people who had moved since turning 50 years of age.
Forty-three per cent of survey respondents who had relocated had downsized. Around half had downsized or moved only once since turning 50 years of age, and a little under a third had moved more than twice.
Downsizers were found to be marginally more likely to be older, female, single, living in one-person households, fully retired as opposed to working, and dependent upon either superannuation or the full Age Pension for their income. Compared to other movers, they were more likely to move into retirement villages, multi-unit or single storey dwellings. They were more likely to move locally rather than go elsewhere in the state or inter-state.
Motivations for downsizing were mainly matters of choice: the most common reason was a desire for a change in lifestyle, retirement, children leaving home and financial gain. Financial difficulty figured in relatively few cases and constraint was more to do with physical factors such as inability to maintain the home and/or garden.
Around three-quarters of respondents found the process of downsizing, or moving without downsizing, ‘Fairly Easy’ or ‘Very Easy’. For the remaining quarter the key difficulties related to availability of suitable housing, its cost and affordability, and the suitability of its location. Negative outcomes were often associated with the financial arrangements of the retirement village loan/lease model due to unforeseen or escalating weekly/monthly fees, or the lack of capital gain inherent in the loan/lease model.
Possible specific policy interventions to address difficulties faced by some downsizers are canvassed. Specialised services to assist older people in the moving and downsizing process might include forward planning for housing and care needs, financial advice and assistance in the moving process. Downsizers could also benefit from improved information about housing choices and the practical aspects of downsizing. Finally, financial disincentives to downsizing, including those related to the purchase and transfer of housing (e.g. stamp duty) and eligibility for the Age Pension might be addressed.
SOURCE: Judd, Bruce (Project leader) “Downsizing amongst older Australians.” AHURI website viewed 26 March 2014
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia