(This is an opinion piece from a guest writer - see note below)
We are all aware of the high barrier to entering the property market in Australia.
This financial blockade has resulted in an intergenerational divide; the younger generation essentially locked out with reduced prospects of securing their first home, versus their parents’ generation who have enjoyed remarkable capital appreciation.
But have you ever considered that avocado toast is not the only impediment to the younger generation entering the housing market and that it is partly due to the Baby Boomers?
The Boomer generation have been slow to embrace the downsizing trend, continuing to rattle around in tightly held family homes with empty bedrooms and high maintenance gardens.
Would-be buyers trying to purchase homes for their family are having their hopes dashed by those already in the market, forced to continue renting and doomed to be paying off someone else’s mortgage forever.
Or even worse, continue living with their parents!
With many choosing the latter option, there also comes the awkwardness of living with in-laws.
Who does the washing up, who buys the food, who does the cleaning, all while bearing witness to the trials and tribulations of a partner’s parents’ lives and vice-versa?
Even worse, the lack of privacy and thin walls are enough to put a muffler on any future aspiration to start a family.
This is now what many of the younger generations are or will be going through as the dream of owning their first home becomes increasingly difficult.
Australia has plenty of housing, but…with an estimated 50 per cent of detached housing in Australia occupied by someone over 50 and millions of empty bedrooms each night, Australia has plenty of family homes, but we have the wrong people living in them.
I wonder if the Boomers have ever considered whether:
- They really need those extra bedrooms which have just become filled with the jetsam and flotsam of life?
- They really want to maintain a garden that is no longer giving back the pleasure it once did and has now become a chore?
- They really want to fully wear out their hips and knees traipsing up and down stairs that only seem to get more numerous and steeper every year?
And even more telling, are their kids now starting to say, “Yes Boomer!” every time they tell a story of the past and what interest rates were in the 1980s and what their first home cost?
Now is the time for the Boomers to do their duty!
There is real benefit in leaving a home burdened with maintenance to buying a home better suited to a retirement lifestyle.
Retirement housing has undergone a revolution; sophisticated, architecturally designed homes with resort-style facilities are the new face of over 50s living.
But it’s more than bricks and mortar; it is also a place where our great Australian spirit thrives alongside a pervading sense of connection and belonging.
Boomers can still have it all AND have the luxury of time to focus on what matters most, without the burden of a large family home to maintain.
Retiring Australians have a real choice to give up their past and create a future for the next generation.
Downsizing is the opportunity to pass on a family home and legacy to the next generation; to give them the chance at home ownership and to live the great Australian dream that the Boomer generation have already enjoyed.
- James Kelly is the Managing Director of Lifestyle Communities, which is a major Victorian-based provider of over 50s residential land lease communities.
This is an opinion piece from a guest writer, as distinct to editorial prepared by Downsizing.com.au.
We've published the piece to encourage a deeper understanding of, and discussion about, downsizing issues in Australia.
We note the story has generated significant activity and commentary on our Facebook channel. We respect the right of individuals to have these opinions.
For the record, Downsizing.com.au believes that downsizing benefits older Australians, and supports government incentives to encourage this to happen.