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?
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