NewsAre Boomers Selfish For Staying Put in the Family Home?
Are Boomers Selfish For Staying Put in the Family Home?

Are Boomers Selfish For Staying Put in the Family Home?

Headlines are meant to be provocative, and this one proved a doozy at Sunday breakfast:

Baby Boomers deepen housing crisis by staying in empty nests.

The argument seems to run that some FiftyUps enjoy later life in the family home too much to move and should make way for younger families. But is it accurate or even fair?

Some bewildering figures came out this week about houses and ageing.

In the next forty years in NSW alone, we will need to build 1.7 million new homes, and the number of 100-year-olds will climb from 2,000 today to 33,000.

As one of those possible centenarians, should I make it as long, it certainly will be a ‘brave new world.’ But how about changes to ageing and housing today?

The headline above (full story in the Sun Herald here) suggests social changes, tax and pension rules, poor planning, the jobs market, and even high childcare costs conspire to keep boomers in the best-located family homes.

The result is less choice and availability for the next generation and the higher housing costs we hear about endlessly.

All these reasons may add up, but the most interesting may be the argument not of these external factors alone but that retirees and their lifestyle preferences have changed big time and perhaps forever.

There’s a disconnect between housing, its location and the generations, which as the population ages (and remember that statistic about the number of 100 year-olds), may only worsen.

Terry Rawnsley, a senior planner at KPMG, is quoted in the Sun Herald story.

“In past generations, as people hit retirement age, they were thinking about moving up the coast or into a retirement village, and when that happened, it opened up housing for new people to move in,” he said.

“There are still some people doing that for sure, but in the current Baby Boomer generation, more people seem to be staying put because of the lifestyle it provides, like the cafes and other amenities ... they seem to be more tied to an urban lifestyle than perhaps previous older generations were.”

I can relate to this. Although far too young to consider retiring (another issue in this complex arena as many Boomers work longer out of choice), we are delighted with where we live.

Close to the beach, the city, the community, services such as health care and can’t see any reason to move. Yes, there are two redundant bedrooms, but the kids still come and stay and maybe one day there’ll be grandchildren.

Are we selfish in any way? Should we make room for others by moving out? What do you intend to do?

Any information contained in this communication is general advice, it does not take into account your individual circumstances, objectives, financial situation or needs.

Originally posted on .

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Pieter from NSW commented:

I don't think this is a new problem. When I was of "prime working age" I learned there were established suburbs, leafy suburbs where the families had aged, kids moved elsewhere, so the suburb demographic was a majority of "older people". First home buyers could only afford the newer, sterile housing estates further out. Then as the oldies died off the suburb renewed and young families took over again. The cycle went full circle. And those newer estates became established and leafier, with an older demographic. The only differences are that the cycle takes longer cuz we oldies are living longer, and newer housing is now so much further out (our Sydney population is so much higher leading to longer travel times (especially with poor public transport). Higher population, further to travel, poor/no public transport, slower cycle all adds up to a snowballing problem. But no-one has the right to say retirees MUST downsize or move and leave their lifelong, established homes, lifestyles, and personal networks. Not on! 

Richard from NSW commented:

We sold our big house and downsized to a 2 bed cottage, its cheaper to maintain, one level so less risk to live in, we sorted and got rid of our excess belongings and free'd up money for our retirement. It was a good move to do it in our 50's while we still could and have control of the process, we are 500m from shops now and are very happy we made the move. Its good to see a family enjoying the big house and pool too. 

Someone from QLD commented:

Absolutely not! They have worked hard for everything they have and did it hard early in life. As a family of 6, we lived in a 3 bedroom home with one bathroom, not unusual for our generation. That would be a very unusual situation for young families today. 

Paula from NSW commented:

My husband took on 3 extra jobs in order for us to save a deposit for a block of land that we paid off. We didn't eat out or buy anything we didn't need. I darned his socks and when his collars frayed I took them off and turned them around, in other words we went without. We started with a small house, 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and carport with 3 children dreaming of the day we could afford a house with and ensuite. That day came more than 10 years later but with a mortgage rate of 17% and we had to add 5 years to the term of the loan. We have worked hard for our home and we enjoy it so no whining millennium is going to drive me from my castle. I'll move when I'm good and ready. 

Robyne from NSW commented:

Why do people think that I should do something I do not want to do. I will stay in my house 🏡 until I die. Get a few jobs & buy a house for yourself you are not getting mine. Don’t ask a stranger to do something you would not do!!! Get a life 

marilyn from SA commented:

Ha I love society of today every one blames someone else for their problems. We oldies did not get great wages and women were worse off we couldn't even get a loan because we were female and would be having babies. The whole responsibility was put onto males in the partnership along with huge interest rates and quite often a second mortgage was required, we all lived on tight budgets for years to pay our homes off, and I have no intention leaving my home for anybody. So I suggest they all start to put in the hard yards and stop pointing fingers at those who have already done so 

Someone from SA commented:

Always fascinates me the youth of today point the finger at those of us owning our own homes as the cause of their troubles in buying a home. They were not around in the days when we were suffering mortgage interest rates between 17 and 20% in the late 80's and early 90's. The struggle through those times was significant and we have earnt the right to live as we wish. Andrew - Adelaide 

john from NSW commented:

What an irritating article! No I'm not selfish - its my house and I will do what I want with it. In any case, I'll be dead in less than 30 years, so there's a house for you mewling moaners out there. 

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