AHURI BRIEF

What is the 'ideal home' for older Australians?

Aspirations to live in middle or outer ring suburbs of a city increase with age

Last updated 26 August 2019

An AHURI research survey found that the vast majority (over 90%) of older Australian across the country are in dwellings that meet their current housing needs, and that 70 per cent reported their current housing meets their longer-term housing aspirations. Just what sort of dwelling and location make up the 'ideal home' for older Australians?

One of the most valued aspects of housing is its location: that it is in a neighbourhood that felt safe and secure; that there is good—often walkable—access to services such as health, shopping, recreational amenities, public open space; and that it is close by to family and friends.

The place older Australians most want to live was in the middle or outer suburbs of a city, an aspiration which increased as people grew older. Small regional towns are the second most preferred location for those aged between 55 and 74 years, while those aged 75 and over are more likely to indicate a preference for the inner suburbs of a capital city. Few older Australians want to live in the CBD of a capital city or in a remote community.

Around two thirds of older Australians want to live in a standalone house, with the next two most popular options being an attached dwelling such as a townhouse (between 9 and 14%) or a low rise apartment of three storeys or less (between 8 and 10%). Very few older Australians want to live in a high rise apartment (between 4 and 5%) or in a granny flat (between 2 and 3%). People aged over 75 years are more likely to want to live in an attached dwelling or in an apartment than the younger age groups, presumably because they see it as a viable option for downsizing.

Around two thirds of older people want to live in a home with three or more bedrooms, with only 2 to 3 per cent wanting to live in a dwelling with only one bedroom.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, between 78 and 81 per cent of older Australians want to live in a home that they own (either fully or shared with someone else). For those older Australians who are currently renting in the private market, nearly two thirds (64%) would like to buy their own home sometime in the future, as would 61 per cent of those in the social housing sector. In addition, slightly more older Australians want to live in a lifestyle or retirement village (between 5 and 8%) than want to live in the private rental sector (between 4 and 6%).

Table 1: Ideal housing location for older Australians by age group

Location55–6465–7475+
the middle/outer suburbs of a capital city32%36%40%
a small regional town21%21%18%
a large regional city or town19%16%14%
the inner suburbs of a capital city16%18%21%
the CBD of a capital city6%3%5%
a remote community3%2%0%
No preference2%2%1%
Other2%1%0%

Source: James, A., Rowley, S., Stone, W., Parkinson, S. Spinney, A. and Reynolds, M. (2019) Older Australians and the housing aspirations gap, AHURI Final Report No. 317

Table 2: Ideal tenure type for older Australians by age group

Tenure type55–6465–7475+
Ownership78%81%80%
Rental6%4%6%
Social housing5%3%2%
Within a lifestyle or retirement home5%8%6%

Source: James, A., Rowley, S., Stone, W., Parkinson, S. Spinney, A. and Reynolds, M. (2019) Older Australians and the housing aspirations gap, AHURI Final Report No. 317