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What do Aussies really want in a home?

There’s been a lot of talk of late about accessible, affordable and appropriate housing.

So, what does this really mean to Australians?

Are we being talked into settling for houses that may not be exactly what we want, but are the only options available?

Are Australians being consulted and are our voices being heard when it comes to accessible, affordable and appropriate housing?

This begs the question, “who is asking older people what they want in a home?”

We’re all different, so surely our needs, wants, and interests would impact on the kind of home we want – especially when we are looking at retiring.

We all need to recognise that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to housing.

Just because we have retired from the paid workforce doesn’t necessarily mean we want to downsize and move into a gated retirement community, retirement village or unit.

Should there be a shift in housing options and preferences?  According to Eamon Waterford, head of advocacy at the Committee for Sydney, the idea of owning a free-standing home on a quarter-acre block is just not feasible.  He believes the houses of the future will be about small homes, shared spaces, and bigger lifestyles.

Planning Institute Australia states that the provision of appropriate, affordable, safe, secure, sustainable and well-located housing is a critical issue for Australia both now and into the future.  Access to safe and secure housing is a basic human right and urban and regional planning has an important role to facilitate the provision of this housing.

Planners can also support the delivery of housing goals through effective development assessment systems, policy advocacy and proactive master-planning processes.

The delivery of appropriate, accessible and affordable housing in Australia faces numerous challenges.  Nationally, Australia has a housing shortage.  Typically, this is borne out in those regions experiencing high rates of in-migration.  In comparison, those regions experiencing a loss of population are impacted by the consequences of housing oversupply.

It can all become a little complicated!

Affordability is also a critical issue.

Housing in Australia’s major cities has become increasingly unaffordable for many over the past two decades, and is considered expensive in a global context.

Australians should have access to affordable, well-located housing that is integrated with transport, employment and services.  Equally, housing should be of a suitable design and quality to meet the needs of a diverse population and to enable residents to live a sustainable, energy efficient lifestyle.

Urban and regional planning and design can influence housing provision in various ways, including by:

  • Designing suburbs and new urban areas that provide diversity and choice in new housing options, in appropriate locations.
  • Assisting in the coordination and delivery of community, recreation and other essential infrastructure
  • Ensuring transport planning is integrated in areas where housing is being established
  • Supporting housing design that is sustainable, and provides appropriate levels of privacy and access to open space
  • Encouraging diversity and choice in housing options to meet the needs of a wide range of household types, including for people with disability

Housing goals should be included in strategic land use policy and planning frameworks at all levels of government.  Housing provision should be integrated with identified employment, transport, education, recreation, and environmental priorities.

As a country, we need to provide alternatives to older Australians who would like to have a home that was more age-appropriate in terms of design and facilities, however, they must be consulted as to what their needs are and how their home can best suit their needs!

Most of us are aware that the federal government will move within weeks to break down barriers that discourage older Australians from “down­sizing” to smaller homes, in a bid to release more property to the market and help tackle housing affordability for younger families.

New incentives have been proposed for retired Australians to save the proceeds from selling their houses to move into ‘more practical’ homes, with forecasts suggesting the measures could free up more than 50,000 properties a year.   Sounds great, doesn’t it?

A few questions…

Who is creating or designing these ‘more practical’ homes?

What is a ‘more practical’ home?

Who decides what a ‘more practical’ home is?

What options are available?

The government is adamant there will be no move to force older Australians to move to a new house, given the emotional and financial investment in family homes, and that the focus instead will be on removing disincentives.

The budget package will include measures that help boost the supply of housing for older Australians — such as villages for the over-55s — so more people are able to downsize without being forced to move far from their home suburbs or towns.  Again, who is being consulted on what people over 55 want in a home?  What if we don’t want to live in a village, or a gated community?

What if we still want to live in a 4-bedroom home – one bedroom for us, one for the kids or grandkids when they visit, one for my hobbies, and one for hubby’s hobbies?  It might be that we still need a family home for 2 people to live in, maybe a lowset, close to family and friends.

How will we afford this though – and how many families are going to be vying for the same property?

If we’re only being offered a few options of housing, are these options meeting our needs or are we taking what is available because there aren’t many choices provided?

Just some food for thought…

We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions about housing and what you want in a home for when you retire.  Please send us a line to

Your information will remain anonymous.


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