The baby boomers certainly aren’t wondering what to do with longer life spans. A growing number of over-55s show no signs of leaving the workforce, and the option to work from home can be a very attractive feature for downsizer properties.
The concept of “retirement age” has become increasingly fluid. Gone are the days when we worked to age 65, received a gold watch from the boss and enjoyed a decent lunch on the company tab only to exit the building and hang up our work boots for good.
Research by The Australia Institute found four out of ten baby boomers expect to keep working, possibly in their current job, well beyond the official retirement age*. The same study also found many more boomers expect to change careers at retirement and either set up a small business or shift to consulting.
A growing trend for people to transition to part time work before full time retirement is encouraged by government taxation policies, and this is impacting on downsizing trends. More baby boomers are opting to downsize in the city where they can still commute to a workplace, or they may consider relocating to a lifestyle destination if they can work remotely. Either way, access to a reliable and fast internet connection will be an attractive feature in any new home.
Downsize a home not career aspirations
The preference to continue working isn’t always financially driven. Many baby boomers take the opportunity to follow long held interests, or develop new skills, to commence a new “encore” career. For some, this means finding a new direction in life after the discipline of decades of working hard, and a new “job” as a volunteer commonly replaces the routines of paid work.
While it may sound idyllic in theory to spend your retirement on the golf course or the beach, the reality is that most people struggle with the transition from work routines and still prefer to lead a meaningful life in their retirement years.
It’s no secret that working allows us to remain socially engaged and mentally active. Twin benefits that become extremely valuable as we age.
The questions is, can baby boomers combine the goals of downsizing and staying in the workforce, whether full or part-time?
The answer is yes – downsizing can offer a new and improved lifestyle, whether or not paid work is part of the equation. And in many ways downsizing can make it easier to keep a hand in the workforce while enjoying more real leisure time. After all, less time spent on home maintenance means more time to truly unwind!
The need for connectivity and home office space
The plans of many boomers to stay in the workforce indefinitely is something selling agents need to bear in mind when promoting downsizer properties. And two key home features can become especially important to these downsizers.
The first can be summed up in a single word – connectivity. Listing agents who believe baby boomers and seniors more broadly, aren’t interested in accessing the internet are simply out of touch with this significant demographic.
Downsizers are set to net
Research by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) shows older Australians are increasingly online, with 85% of over-65s using the internet daily and spending an average of seven hours online in any given week *.
Use of mobile devices is more common than you may expect amongst the older age groups, for example, 56% of those accessing the Downsizing.com.au and Seniors Housing Online websites are using mobile phones or tablets to do so. Only 44% are using a desktop computer – and this is an audience where 72% are aged over 55. And of these mobile devices, a massive 33% are using iPads and 22% are using iPhones. So just don’t underestimate the importance of getting online for this demographic!
But here’s the thing. Older Australians are far less likely than their younger counterparts to use the internet at a friend’s place or to tap into wireless hotspots. They want to be able to connect from the comfort of their home . This being the case, selling agents would do well to point out the internet connection features of a downsizer property.
Room for a home office or communication station
A second home feature worth promoting is space for a home office. So rather than promote a spare bedroom as guest accommodation or somewhere for the grandkids to enjoy sleepovers, think about marketing it as a dedicated home office, especially if the prospective buyer is planning to work from home.
Even small areas can become a valuable study nook or communication station, to accommodate a desk, chair and laptop computer.
It’s also worth pointing out how the arrangement of a downsizer home can be well-suited to Wi-Fi. This doesn’t just maximise connectivity throughout the home, it also minimises the volume of cables laying around, which are both unsightly and a potential tripping hazard for older residents.
Seen through this lens, a downsizer property can be an exciting stepping stone that allows buyers to enjoy a new home and lifestyle – and also embark on their dreams for a whole new phase in their working career. And that’s an aspect of downsizing that selling agents can’t afford to overlook.
Author: Greg Oddy from Downsizing.com.au