WITH the stigma surrounding ‘the last place’, the approach of retirement village developers is adapting to new demands and lifestyle tastes.

In light of a recent study that shows two in every three people over 55 are moving home, Coronis Realty managing director Andrew Coronis, predicts increased development as Baby Boomers get older, with the possibility of freehold ownership agreements.

Stafford Heights, McDowall and Carindale are three Brisbane suburbs where Andrew Coronis sees potential development for the 60+ housing market, but by the time this happens the way we interpret
‘retirement villages’ will be very different.

“A lot of the marketing now won’t use the term ‘retirement village’ because people don’t want to get old, they don’t want the stigma of moving into their last place,” says the Coronis Realty managing director.

“I’ve spoken to people in the medical profession and families, and it’s perhaps better that people over 60 can move into a place where they get all the facilities of a retirement village but can continue living in a home where they are better off and living the lifestyle they want.

“It’s about not leaving it too late, otherwise they won’t enjoy it. It’s a big change in their life, and if someone makes a whole new change it puts them right outside their comfort zone, but they often find they are then associating with like-minded people and end up having a much better time.”

Coronis also points out that most retirement living options are more expensive than buying the standard unit, raising issues of affordability for families, especially considering the vast majority of services are
on a leasehold basis.

“It’s not economically viable for the siblings and children – it’s not like an asset,” he says.

“I’m not aware of any that are freehold, but I think that will change. In 2010 to 2020 the Baby Boomers are coming through now and there’s a lot of pressure at that end of the market, and if someone comes up with a model for freehold and the demand is there for it, then it will happen.”

In National Seniors Australia’s report Moving or Staying Put it was found that the majority of seniors move home after 55 and are increasingly looking for alternatives to the traditional ‘retirement home’.

National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre researcher Ellen Skladzien says respondents indicated they wanted a home with services close by, but also large enough that they could have all the family over.

“One thing we did find surprising was that so many people do move later in life. Out of the people over 75, two thirds of them had moved between the ages of 55 and 75, so that’s quite a large chunk of them,” she says.

“One concern I think is that moving into retirement, people still want their own space where they can still pursue the sort of activities they did when they were younger. For instance, a lot of men still want their sheds.

“Some want a space that doesn’t require as much maintenance – but it’s not all about downsizing.”

Skladzien says the results represent important trends that the property industry will need respond to, with baby boomers in particular expressing little interest in traditional forms of retirement villages.

“I think that it’s going to be important, especially in Queensland, with a large population over the age of 50, about 30 per cent in the last census, so it’s important to think about what they’re looking for. After all, they are going to be a significant part of the property market.”

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