Since BoomerCafé is based in the good ol’ U.S.A., we always find it interesting to see what baby boomers are up to in other parts of the world … especially our mates Down Under. Here’s a look at where boomers are living, from the Australian television network ABC’s Caroline Winter.
While a home on a big block may once have been the dream of the average Australian baby boomer, research suggests they are increasingly looking at apartment living – with serious implications for urban planning, according to a leading demographer.
Professor Graeme Hugo, director of the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre at Adelaide University, says given baby boomers make up 25 per cent of the population, policy-makers need to plan for more high-density housing.
Professor Hugo, who has released a paper based on his study of the nation’s changing demographics between 1981 and 2011, says that while the need for health care and support services has been anticipated, suitable living arrangements have not.
“Population change does tend to be quite incremental, so it does tend to creep up on us, there’s no sudden changes,” he said.
“But when we compared it over 30 years, I think there really have been some quite substantial changes.”
As well as considering a move to apartment living, more baby boomers are moving to turn regional holiday homes into something more permanent, however both options bring big challenges when it comes to supply, infrastructure and market conditions.
The problem is exacerbated by Australia’s population growth – seven million over the past 30 years.
However, Professor Hugo says the increased mobility of older Australians offers “substantial opportunities”, including inner-city living.
“Baby boomers, as they move into older age, are going to be more likely to move house than previous generations,” he said.
“What we’re seeing is the beginnings of significant numbers of baby boomers who are downsizing and buying smaller housing within the inner and middle suburbs.”
Baby boomers join Gen Y in property hunt
Jon Rivera from property consulting firm Urbis says continued recovery from the global financial crisis has seen a new trend: baby boomers pitted against Generation Y in the property market.
“You know we’re seeing Generation Y and the baby boomer market almost seeking the same sort of accommodation, promoting walk-ability, that has infrastructure, that has the amenity, that really promotes lifestyle,” he said.
Mr. Rivera says Gen Y is looking at one or two-bedroom apartments while three-bedrooms are being sought by baby boomers looking for low-maintenance accommodation and potentially a long-term investment.
However, supplying the market is a concern.
“We still have some challenges for developers around finance, construction, presales, which obviously then have to go through that time period to settlement,” he said.
“So that’s what’s really starting to really drive some of our markets as well, because it’s actually not being supplied as fast as required.”
Some boomers also moving out
In his paper, Professor Hugo also highlights the major capital injection baby boomers will bring to regional areas.
South Australia’s Copper Coast – an hour-and-a-half drive north of Adelaide – was one destination considered in his research.
“Half of the housing stock was holiday homes and of those three-quarters were owned by baby boomers, and when we surveyed the baby boomers themselves half of them had intentions to fully retire to their holiday home,” he said.
Copper Coast Mayor Paul Thomas says his council is preparing for the influx, estimating that the permanent population of 13,000 will almost double in the next 10 years.
“So we’re seeing gradually people shifting in and spending more nights here and less in the city, and I think that’s going to be ongoing – that we’ll see more and more of those people spending more and more time here and gradually relocating,” Dr Thomas said.
The mayor says that his council is just one of many across Australia in line for major growth – and its associated challenges.
“We’re going to see this boom in population and with that can bring some prosperity, but also there needs to be the approach from council that we need to be pro-active, because with this increase in population we’ll also have some challenges, particularly around planning and infrastructure and the social infrastructure this new population expects,” he said.
“The largest increase at the moment is in those younger older age groups, when people are still very productive, still very healthy, many of them have significant assets, and it could well be that there are real opportunities – not just for their lives to be enhanced but to facilitate our economic and social development of the country.”
Professor Hugo says baby boomers still have much to offer as they age and is urging governments to keep them in mind in planning for the future.