ACT News

Downsizing boomers poorly catered for in suburban property market

Barbara and Lance Court have managed to do what many people their age dream of - downsize  in the suburb they have lived in for more than a decade.  

Next phase: Barbara and Lance Court, pictured at their home in Aranda, have just purchased a townhouse 350 metres away ...
Next phase: Barbara and Lance Court, pictured at their home in Aranda, have just purchased a townhouse 350 metres away as they downsize to a smaller home. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Mrs Court, 68, a retired public servant, said there  were not enough quality, roomy apartments available.   The three-bedroom  property they purchased in Aranda ticks all their boxes.

"We were looking for a high-class development, something with an outdoor terrace entertaining area and walking distance to shops and amenities," she said.

"What they've been building as three-bedroom apartments is more for young folk … and in Jamison they're not building bigger apartments."

After 11 years in their current home, the couple  will move from their spacious block to one of the 10 three-bedroom apartments – yet to be built – in the elevated complex.

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While each apartment is two storeys, the couple can live on one storey if they wish.

It's a feature commonly requested of developers, but Council of the Ageing ACT executive director Paul Flint said there was a great need for more appropriate housing for baby boomers.

"Given the combined demographics of the suburbs – the age of the suburbs and age of the residents – we find the suburbs that were built in the '60s and '70s have very little housing that is age appropriate," he said.

He called for more single-storey apartments, limited in practice by the dwelling replacement rule and the economic incentive to go higher, and said double-storey apartments built should maximise opportunities for retirees by  providing ground floor accommodation for one family and top storey for another.

Belconnen Community Council president Robyn Coghlan said while she often received complaints about neighbours who built an extra dwelling next door, more moderate redevelopments tended to be better accepted.

"The redevelopment of the old Jamison Inn site dropped from a six-storey development  to three-storeys … the current proposal is generally viewed much more happily for the community because it has been designed for the market," she said.

The Courts, who hosted regular dance groups at their home, said they wanted to move while they were healthy.

"The only thing we will miss is not having the back deck to dance on," Barbara said.