Here’s some good news: Australians are living longer than ever before. In fact, over the last century, men are typically living an extra eight years, while women are enjoying an additional ten years of life. World Bank figures show life expectancy in Australia today is a whisker over 82 years. Not too bad at all.
Living to a ripe old age is something we all hope for. But it does call for planning, and a study by National Seniors Australia (NSA)* shows that our savings behaviour is not keeping pace with increasing life expectancy.
More to the point, we tend to make exciting plans for early retirement while overlooking the need to make our money stretch over what could be decades of older age – including meeting the cost of aged care accommodation towards the end of our life.
Add capital growth to your downsizing wish list
How does this relate to downsizing? Well, the NSA found “One of the common motivations for ‘downsizing’ is to be able to enjoy travel”. No question about that. Downsizing can be a genuine “lock and leave” solution.
However, if needed, someone – either you or your family – will still need to be able to cover the cost of aged care further (hopefully much further) down the track.
That’s where downsizing your home comes into play. It is definitely worth adding “capital growth” to your downsize location wish list. This can ensure you have sufficient equity to afford high quality aged care when the time comes. After all, by the time you reach your late 80s or even 90s, there is a reasonable chance your home may be your most significant (potentially only) asset based on the NSA report.
There are many different types of retirement and downsizer housing on offer which might suit your lifestyle, location and budget. These will involve various types of legal title and contracts, and many purpose built retirement communities will offer the prospect of capital gains - either 100% of the gains on later re-sale, or in some cases a share of the capital gain. So you won't necessarily have to forgo capital gain in order to secure the lifestyle benefits and support services in your golden years, but it's a factor to consider as you compare options.
One more aspect to weigh up carefully as you do your due diligence and seek legal advice on any prospective purchase.
Indicators of capital growth to look for
Of course, future capital growth – as opposed to past gains – is hard to pick. But some key indicators are generally a good guide for areas that will deliver long term capital growth.
Population growth is always a key driver for home values, and this is often a function of proximity to employment opportunities, improved infrastructure (especially transport developments that provide better access to employment hubs) and suburb gentrification.
At a very simple level, it can also help to look for areas where big retailers are moving in. These companies do their homework and will rarely invest in an area if it looks like the population is likely to decline. So the sight of a shiny new Bunnings store can be a reassuring sign of a suburb set for an uptick in population growth.
Similarly, reasonable access to a major metropolitan centre is always a plus for property values. It’s important for downsizers too. You still want to be able to access high quality health care and other lifestyle and leisure facilities.
Oh, and proximity to a decent airport doesn’t hurt either. After all, those travel plans won’t stay on the backburner for long once you’ve downsized to a lower maintenance home!
Happy house hunting!
Greg Oddy is Director of Sales and Marketing for Downsizing.com.au and SeniorsHousingOnline.com.au
* "Hope for the best, plan for the worst? Insights into our planning for a longer life." February 2018, National Seniors Australia.