Retirement is no barrier to apartment living

Ageing in place and housing shortage are the two biggest buzz words in property at the moment, with current reports suggesting that older generations are refusing to downsize, causing a shortage of housing for younger buyers.

However, Marshall White Projects is in fact witnessing the opposite – now more than ever before we are seeing a substantial number of retirees buying up luxury apartments in order to fund their retirement lifestyle. In fact in my lifetime I have never seen a more large-scale acceptance towards apartment living from retirees than right now.

In the past six months alone, we have seen an astounding number of retirees purchasing off-the-plan apartments.

As an example, more than 70% of our Somers Avenue project in Malvern was sold to retirees, while at another luxury off-the-plan project in Doncaster, Arbor, retirees bought over 65 percent of the apartments sold. These retirees are either choosing apartment living of their own volition, or often they are assisted by their children who are supporting the move to downsize.

Whether you are for or against the merits of apartment living, there is no denying that the apartment landscape has changed drastically over the past five years.

No longer restricted to towering high-rise developments in the CBD, developers now understand that new demographics are adapting to apartments and are therefore delivering more larger-than-average, luxury apartment offerings in boutique developments in quiet tree-lined streets, to cater for these new buyers.

This has in turn opened up a host of opportunities for the retiree market who is seeking to swap their sprawling, aging home for something that offers a low-maintenance lifestyle without compromising on luxury or convenience.

According to the government’s Housing Decisions of Older Australians report, the primary motivator when retiring is to remain in a familiar community that’s close to family friends. Second is the desire to access amenity that assists with ageing in the form of facilities and low-maintenance housing.

That’s where these boutique apartment projects become so appealing to retirees.

Firstly they are located in areas that are familiar to the location the retirees know and love, and secondly they offer a spate of facilities and communal amenity that encourages community interaction and ease of living. I believe the recent shift in the retiree market’s mindset is only the beginning; as more older buyers recognise the benefits of apartment living, more will follow suit.

Which brings me to highlight the need for the current government neighbourhood planning zones to be overturned in order to fuel the demand for these sorts of boutique developments. Right now, under the current planning scheme, most of the ideal locations for these boutique developments – quiet side streets in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs – are restricted to two-lot subdivisions, with main roads the only approved locations for future development growth.

As retirees embrace apartment living, we need to meet these new expectations and provide suitable dwelling options to meet the heightened demand. If we don’t enforce change we will be unable to deliver the sorts of boutique apartment options that appeal to the retiree market.

In my opinion, it is this underlying lack of supply, not a voluntary refusal from retirees to downsize, which will cause a shortage of housing supply for future generations.

Leonard Teplin is a director of Marshall White Projects.

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