Australians aged over 55 are happiest with a three-bedroom dwelling, along with a small garden, and sufficient internal space for guests and activities, a new report has found.
The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute has published a new report, based on extensive survey data, on the downsizing preferences of Australians.
The report represents the most complete picture, yet available, of the types of dwellings and environment that downsizers are seeking.
However, at the same time, the report warns that Australia’s planning systems, and the development industry, are not necessarily delivering the types of homes sought by older Australians.
Around three bedrooms the sweet spot
The report finds that Australians over 55 reported the highest level of satisfaction (66 per cent) with three bedroom dwellings. This compares to a 59 per cent satisfaction rating for two bedroom bedrooms and just 26 per cent for one bedroom dwellings.
However, the report also shows that many people with a two bedroom home would have been keen for an extra bedroom, and conversely many with three bedroom homes would have been happy with one less bedroom.
This indicates that the perfect downsizer home may in fact be two bedrooms, along with a ‘half bedroom’ quiet area that could be used as a study or office.
The report’s finding backs recent market research by Knight Frank which found that downsizers were looking for three bedroom homes. This research found that Brisbane and the Gold Coast had the strongest pipeline of these dwellings in Australia.
Spare bedrooms still important
The report also finds that 66 per cent of Australian downsizers retained at least one spare bedroom.
Popular uses for spare bedrooms included a permanent guest room, a study or office, a dedicated room where children or grandchildren can stay overnight, and storage.
Spare bedrooms were very rarely rented out (just two per cent of survey respondents did this) or used as an additional living room (just five per cent of respondents).
“The research found that the assumption by government that spare bedrooms are underutilised by older Australians is not shared by older Australians,” the report finds.
“These 'spare' rooms are used for specific purposes, most notably guest rooms (which are important for family and social networks), but also as offices, for storage, or as dedicated rooms for grandchildren.”
While 67 per cent of people who downsized reduced their number of bedrooms, an even greater proportion reduced their garden size or were willing to do away with a garden completely.
The survey found 60 per cent of people went to a smaller garden and 16 per cent went to no garden at all.
Supply a problem
The trick, of course, is being able to find this ideal dwelling. To this end, the report paints a gloomy picture.
“For those households looking to age in their local community, few metropolitan LGAs offer the diversity of housing options necessary to accommodate the aspirations of older households, and those that do tend to be very expensive and well out of the reach of households with limited income and wealth,” it says.
“Increasing housing diversity across all locations is essential to providing options for older households to meet their aspirations.
“There is a clear role for local and state governments to play in this space. New-dwelling supply must deliver a range of housing options that can specifically cater for the needs of older Australians, across a variety of price points, for those than can afford to purchase.”
Find out more
Downsizing.com.au is Australia’s leading over 50s housing portal. We list a wide variety of homes suitable for older Australians, including general apartments and townhouses, retirement villages and land lease communities.
When you conduct a search for properties within your preferred suburb, you can narrow this search to homes with your preferred number of bedrooms, using the filter at the top of the page. For further tips, please see some of the stories below: