Four in ten Australians would consider retirement living, but a new survey cites reputational issues

Four in ten Australians would consider retirement living, but a new survey suggests reputational issues are holding the industry back.

The Catalyst Report produced in conjunction with the COTA, gathered feedback from 6,500 Australians, including residents already in retirement living, potential residents (shoppers) and those who would not consider retirement living (rejectors).

The study examines views of those seeking a ‘lifestyle village’ – with an emphasis on shared facilities, ‘independent living’ – featuring limited support services and ‘assisted living’ – where more personal and medical support is offered. Each group has different priorities but ‘avoiding the move to a nursing home was a common theme.

Key findings:

  • Most want to stay at home but a large percentage will consider seniors’ or retirement living
  • Australians are concerned about contract complexity and how villages are run
  • Baby boomers want more diverse retirement options
  • Retirement living should be used to alleviate the housing shortage

Triggers for over 60s to reconsider their future accommodation include the house and garden becoming ‘too much’ and the opportunity to cash in on the family home / take a long holiday. Whilst most would prefer to stay at home and potentially access home care as they age, 42% would consider the retirement living option. Fewer prioritise retirement living over staying at home or buying a smaller property, but the study points to strong growth compared with the 6% currently living in over-60s properties reported in the 2021 census.

Despite this positive outlook, concerns are expressed over poorly run villages (53%) and contract complexity (38%). “The survey provides timely notice that the quality of village management and many funding models greatly concern potential residents,” says Michael Woods, Professor of Health Economics at the University of Technology Sydney.

Respondents were asked about Communities of the Future – retirement villages that could cater for intergenerational living. “Some people want GPs, a pharmacy, and a childcare centre to help facilitate employment at the site, offering a benefit for workers” offers Kevin McCreton, Catalyst Research managing director.

“Baby boomers are more likely to want a wider range of facilities and services than previous generations”

Kevin McCreton, Catalyst Research managing director.

Three in ten were in favour of co-located sites where aged care and retirement living accommodation are built side by side.

New Zealand aged care operator Ryman Healthcare (who also operates in Victoria) recently released a discussion paper calling on the Australian aged care sector to adopt a similar model to NZ, where aged care and retirement living operate as an integrated facility. Download the discussion paper here.

The Ryman paper claims that the proposed model would help alleviate many of the financial headwinds being experienced by Australian residential aged care operators, pointing to much better ROI in New Zealand compared to Australian aged care investments.

The Catalyst Report also found one in six (16%) would prefer a rent-based model, a statistic even higher amongst low-income households. This finding could open the door for state or federal governments to start considering retirement living as a solution to housing affordability for older Australians.


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