ANY notion that south-east Queensland has lost its shine for retirees has been blown out of the water by demographer Bernard Salt.

According to Salt, the region increasingly will become a lure for baby boomers who are driving a new wave of ageing sea changers heading to both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

He says developers who adapt to the changing needs of this demographic will be the big winners of the trend, with today’s retirees happier to spend more on lifestyle than their frugal parents.

But, according to Salt, they’re not all retirees with a lot of time on their hands.

He says many older Australians are staying in the workforce or taking a bigger role in the care of their grandchildren, and this means developers have had to readjust the style of housing being offered to this demographic.

“What we are now seeing is the rise of the portfolio stage in the lifecycle; it involves a range of social, family and work commitments,” he says.

“It is clear that the period in life between the mid-50s and 70 is increasingly being commandeered by work and/or by childcare.

“I suspect baby boomers moving into this stage of the lifecycle see this arrangement as a positive contribution to the way they want to live.

“It delivers an increased level of financial independence as well as greater social and familial engagement.”

Salt says while baby-boomers have been drawn to south-east Queensland in droves since the early 2000s, the reasons that are driving them now have changed dramatically.

“Those same boomers a decade or so later will be looking for a different accommodation product,” he says.

“That product is yet to achieve the cultural impact of the seachange shift, but with so many boomers pushing into this stage of the lifestyle, it is surely only a matter of time.

“A range of accommodation options will emerge to meet this market.

“One such need will be self-contained townhouses or lifestyle unit facilities in a coastal location in places like south-east Queensland.”

Salt concedes the Queensland market has suffered in recent years, largely due to a drop in demand for holiday housing.

“However retirement housing or, more correctly, lifestyle housing including manufactured homes is a different segment that fits neatly between the empty-nest and aged-care phases,” he says.

Over-50s property developer Halcyon is one Gold Coast company that has cashed in on the trend in recent years.

The company, which is backed by Gold Coast property veterans Gordon and Archie Douglas, has had solid sales success from five developments under the Halcyon banner since 2003.

The  company has just launched the $60 million Vision by Halcyon at Hope Island (pictured), comprising 88 homes, after achieving pre-sales of $15 million.

Halcyon joint managing director Bevan Geissmann says his company has responded to what he sees as a desire by baby boomers’ to downsize their financial commitments while upsizing their lifestyles.

Lifestyle housing is likely to have a spare bedroom for the grandchildren and more room for children to play outdoors, as well as cutting-edge internet connections for many who work from home. 

Salt says census data revealed that between 2001 and 2011, the proportion of Queenslanders aged 63 in the workforce jumped from 32 per cent to 48 per cent.

He says the trend is affecting the wider segment of the demographic aged between 58 and 68.

“These baby boomers are perhaps shoring up their financial situation in preparation for retirement,” he says.

“I suspect that boomers, unlike their frugal parents raised during the Great Depression, know that they are unable to live modestly in retirement.

“This might be a response to the global financial crisis or it might be a reflection of changes to the nature of work: less physical labour, more intellectual effort.

“The outcome is a rising pool of baby boomers aged in their late 50s and early 60s with greater spending power and perhaps with coastal lifestyle aspirations.”

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