Older Australians overwhelmingly want to age in place—and the retirement living and aged care sector is evolving to create more adaptable and affordable accommodation.
An Australian House and Urban Research Institute study found that up to 80 per cent of Australians aged over 55 wanted to live in their own home as they aged to maintain closeness to family and friends, shopping, transport and health services.
Starts at 60 founder Rebecca Wilson, said there was scope for change within the industry to offer a pathway from retirement living communities to residential aged care. “A third of our audience has already downsized in some form and another 17 per cent are considering downsizing, but only about 30 per cent overall currently live in a retirement living community or think that that type of community might suit them.”
She adds, “knowing that you’re not just moving into, say, a retirement village for the next decade but making a property decision that gives you certainty on your care much later in life could be a more attractive proposition.”
Platino Properties is innovating in this space to create high-end over-55s communities where residents can age in place with smart housing options.
The latest over-55s project, The Jardin, has sold 75 per cent of its apartments off the plan with prices starting at $795,000.
The strata ownership model ensures that the buyer’s name is on the title and owners retain any capital growth of the property. The apartments are adaptable and “future proof” to allow for changing needs and an onsite concierge service assists with services and health assistance where needed.
But affordability is a major issue in retirement living options according to the institute’s Research Agenda for 2021.
The report said independent living units had become more expensive as a result of increased government regulations and consumer expectations.
“Older people seeking affordable rental housing in a congregate setting can enter marginal accommodation like caravan, manufactured and residential parks, which can have issues around security of tenure,” the report said. “There is a need to look at the needs of older people and how well the spectrum of housing—including age specific, service integrated housing and marginal housing—meets their diverse needs.”
Co-living is a viable and affordable solution for seniors who cannot afford high-end retirement living, according to Calyptus founder Richard Andrews.
After many years in the industry, Andrews said he saw the demand for more flexible and affordable living options, particularly for older women. “We have about 100 co-living properties in the pipeline, we’re just waiting for the land to trickle through,” he said.
“What I’m trying to achieve is longer tenures for seniors. The Grattan Institute says that by 2056 half of all retirees will be renting. We’re building the wrong sort of developments for our ageing population.”
Andrews said the concept was to build low-set houses with extra bathrooms, wider doors and reinforced walls to accommodate the changing needs of older people.
It is a houseshare model where tenants could pay an all-in-one rent of about $250 per week and investors covered the costs of furnishing the house’s common areas and white goods.
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