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Report Home ownership Housing markets

Moving, downsizing and housing equity consumption choices of older Australians

Final Report No. 321

Date Published: 13 Nov 2019

Authors: Stephen Whelan Kadir Atalay Garry Barrett Rebecca Edwards

This research analyses current geographic mobility and downsizing behaviours among Australians aged over 55 to describe the nature of downsizing decisions, together with the barriers and consequences of those decisions.

Older Australians tend to maintain a high rate of home ownership, with around 85 per cent of all but the youngest group in the study data (who are yet to reach age 65) owning their own home either outright or with a mortgage by the age of 65.

When older Australians move, financial downsizing is somewhat more common than physical downsizing, nevertheless, it is still not a usual housing path. Among all older age groups, fewer than 20 per cent of individuals who sold their existing home to buy another reduced their net level of housing equity in the process.

Older individuals’ mobility and downsizing behaviours are generally associated with key life events (‘push factors’), such as a deterioration in health, a transition to retirement, widowhood or children leaving home. Pull factors may include a desire to be closer to family, or a better lifestyle. Individuals who downsize, as measured by a decrease in the number of bedrooms, are more likely to have transitioned from being partnered to being single, or to have left the labour force.

The cost of moving is the most frequently cited main barrier to mobility for those individuals who would like to move but are unlikely to do so (for both owners and renters).

DOI: 10.18408/ahuri-7318601

Published by: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited

ISSN: 1834-7223

ISBN: 978-1-925334-85-2


Citation: Whelan, S., Atalay, K., Barrett, G., and Edwards, R. (2019) Moving, downsizing and housing equity consumption choices of older Australians, AHURI Final Report No. 321, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne, https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/321, doi:10.18408/ahuri-7318601.