Baby boomers have the weight of numbers to pique developers’ interest. But when it comes to the style of properties downsizers are looking for, are apartment developers missing the mark?

Extensive research by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI)* has shed valuable light on what downsizers are looking for in their new home. To get a better idea of the sort of considerations developers need to take on board, it’s worth understanding the factors that motivate over-50s to move to scale back their home.

Low maintenance but still with room to enjoy life

Among the primary motivators for downsizers are home-based considerations including maintenance of the home and yard followed closely by the desire for a smaller home. Lifestyle improvements are also important as well as location – the preference to be close to shops, transport, services, children and family.

Interestingly, financial considerations were less critical among downsizers suggesting older Australians are happy to pay for what they want. More important is the ability for downsizers to trim their living costs and move to an attractive area. Other features downsizers have on their wish list is a single level home without stairs, a small and manageable garden and good neighbours.

The AHURI study also found that downsizers typically move from three- and four-bedroom dwellings to two- and three-bedroom homes, indicating that single bedroom apartments may not be popular with this demographic.

So what aspects of a downsized home were people most happy with?

Overall, AHURI noted high levels of satisfaction (around 90%) among downsizers. People tended to be happiest in regards to the lower maintenance requirements, and having enough space to entertain/accommodate family and friends. However, developers should note, where space is limited, downsizers report the need to have access to shared common spaces.

Good security, a senior-friendly home layout and adequate storage were also seen as pluses. This highlights the value of addressing these features in apartment design.

Quality construction is a must

When it comes to problems, the core aspect of dissatisfaction reported by the downsizers AHURI spoke with, related to defects and maintenance issues. This underpins the merits of maintaining extremely high standards of construction with clear plans in place for regular maintenance.

The AHURI survey found the resettling process was relatively easy for the majority of downsizers however one-quarter encountered problems. The overwhelming challenge (cited by two-thirds of those who found the process of moving difficult) was simply finding suitable housing.

It’s a shout out to developers to accommodate the needs of downsizers in apartment design – space for a small garden, a preference for more than one bedroom, ample storage and good security, and quality construction. Achieve this bucket list, and Australia’s 5.5 million baby boomers* are likely to stamp their name on your contract of sale.

*Downsizing amongst older Australians, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute at The University of New South Wales, 2014

*ABS Cat 3235.0 – Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2014

Author: Greg Oddy from