Denman W18 Masthead 2

Downsizing your home, upsizing your lifestyle

Catherine Carter

The kids have moved out, the mortgage is paid off, and the big garden is becoming a bit of a burden.

But rather than sit in an empty nest, Baby Boomers are saying goodbye to family house and yard as they try apartment living on for size.

The Baby Boomer generation is turning 70 from 2016, ushering in what we can expect will be two decades of rapid growth in Australia’s senior population. And as they age, Boomers are likely to oust young urbanites as the main driver of growth in apartment construction.

But forget cramped bedsits and stuffy boxes. Instead, think private foyers with support staff trained in first aid.

Picture apartments with plenty of space to hang fine art, large balconies and architect-designed kitchens, quality appliances and communal lounge/bar areas. Imagine developments that feature wellness centres and yoga classes, well-stocked libraries and business areas with free Wi-Fi, and play equipment for the grandkids. Envisage access to care services and chauffeured group day trips thrown in for good measure.

Just as the Baby Boomers embraced the Great Australian Dream with gusto, now they are reinventing that dream by prioritising social, recreational and lifestyle needs. The result is a new way of living.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Family and Household Projections report forecasts that the number of empty-nester households in Australia will grow by 14 percent by 2021. Retirees already occupy around a third of all our medium-density housing – and they are rapidly demanding more from that housing than ever before. A 2012 report prepared by the University of NSW for the National Housing Supply Council identified six distinct categories of retirees and their accommodation needs:

  1. Age in place: Retirees that want to keep living in the family home.
  1. Local adaptors: Those considering moving out of their current home, but who want to live in the same area.
  1. Scene changers: Those looking to move to a home with greater amenity or lifestyle.
  1. Constrained retreat: People who want to remain in their current home, or stay within their local area, but who are forced to make some compromises due to financial constraints.
  1. Increased dependency: Those who want to remain in their current home, but must make housing or location compromises due to deteriorating health.
  1. Older renters: Retirees who do not own their own home, and who live in rental accommodation.

Apartment living appeals to many of these groups. For many people who no longer wish to be burdened with endless domestic chores and high maintenance gardens, the ‘lock it and leave’ lifestyle enables them to travel, spend time with family, contribute to their community or just relax and enjoy life.


For others, leaving behind the suburb they love is unappealing. Aging in place isn’t about staying in the family home, but within the community they know and love. For these people, an apartment development in their own suburb or in their family’s suburb is the perfect solution.

For others still, the chance to reinvent their life doesn’t require a tree or sea change. Instead, the bright lights and buzz of the city is an opportunity to shake things up, embrace an active lifestyle and enjoy amenities more likely to be found in a five-star hotel than a retirement village.

Ultimately, Baby Boomers aren’t just looking to downsize their family home; they also want to upsize their lifestyles.


What is Independent Living?

Independent Living means you have your own architecturally designed, self-contained home, whilst having access to services, facilities and a community of like-minded people that a regular apartment complex wouldn’t offer. Independent Living is what you find in “retirement villages” or “lifestyle villages”, which can be made up of villas, units or modern apartments. Vastly different to “aged care” or “nursing homes”, it allows you to live completely independently while accessing the benefits of supports such as home maintenance, and full-time staff to check on you and coordinate a social calendar. Your apartment or villa will likely have a nurse call system, and be designed to adaptable housing code to allow for adjustments if your mobility changes over time.

Why would I choose Independent Living over my own home?

You don’t have to worry about the repair and maintenance of an Independent Living apartment or villa because it’s all taken care of for you. You also have the added peace of mind of knowing that your home is within a secure complex and, should you need it, emergency medical assistance is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Isolation and loneliness is never an issue because you have instant access to a range of organised activities, convenient facilities and a community of like-minded people.

Is there an age requirement?

Yes – most facilities have an age requirement. The Central by Goodwin, for example, is exclusively for people 60 years or older.

How is Independent Living different from buying an apartment?

At Goodwin, you don’t buy the property, you enter a Deed of Loan and Licence – a formal contract that gives you an ongoing licence to live in your apartment or villa at Goodwin. On top of this license, you also pay a monthly fee that covers all maintenance of your home and the operating costs of your complex – similar to a body corporate fee.

There is a “deferred management fee” payable on exit, offset by a share of the capital gain.

You have the security of knowing exactly where you stand financially, from entry, and at Goodwin you have no responsibility for refurbishing or reselling the property, which can be a huge burden for your family.

How do I apply?

Simply register your interest with the Goodwin sales office at [email protected] or 6175 5000.

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Catherine Carter

A lover of books and beauty, a seasoned traveller and a creative thinker, Catherine Carter is passionate about Canberra. Head of the Property Council of Australia’s Canberra office for more than a decade, Catherine now provides specialist business and communication consultancy services with a focus on urban environments, new forms of collaboration, community building and diversity. Catherine was the recipient of the Telstra Business Women’s ACT Community and Government Award in 2010 and the National Association of Women in Construction Crystal Vision Award in 2017. More about the Author

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