Downsizing: Is anyone interested?

A For Sale sign with a red roof over the lettering.Downsizing is not happening even if policy makers think it’s a good idea for older generations. This is the bottom line of the latest brief from AHURI. So, what is downsizing? First, this concept is mostly about home owners not renters. There is financial downsizing to release equity by buying a cheaper home. But only 20 per cent of owner-occupiers aged 55 to 64 years in 2001 moved to another home of lesser value by 2016 (this age cohort was the most likely to have ‘financially downsized’ during this 15 year period).

Physical downsizing is often seen as reducing the number of bedrooms, but this is a crude measure. This is because the number of bedrooms isn’t the issue. The size of all the rooms could be smaller, but it’s the size of the yard and maintenance that really matters to older people. Fewer than 15 per cent of older home-owners moved to another home with fewer bedrooms between 2001 and 2016. This latest research serves to confirm the key study by Bruce Judd and team where they found all bedrooms were in use. Also, older people spend more time at home, so it’s their space for recreation and activities

The title of the brief is, Understanding downsizing: What are the different types of downsizing and how common is it? There are references to other related AHURI research in this brief.

Editor’s comment: Government and the property industry might be keen to see older home owners move. However, the evidence is showing that the property industry might have to re-think their strategy of trying to entice people into their retirement villages by continuing to design and build homes so that people can’t age in place.  


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