Room for the Zoomers: new downsizer trend

Forget having an empty nest – older Aussies are increasingly downsizing with their adult kids in tow.

Experts revealed spiralling housing prices and cost of living pressures have flipped Australia’s downsizing market on its head, leading to widespread changes in how older residents are living.

Mark McCrindle, demographer and social analyst noted the pandemic’s impact on housing affordability had prompted discussions around how families could reduce financial stress or pre-emptively prepare for retirement.

“It can make a lot of sense to forward think,” he said. “There are those who are aware that detached homes have gone up significantly in price, there is a great value to selling a detached home, even in the regional centres.”

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Victor and Abha Prasad are preparing to downsize with their three children, Arya (21) Vani (14) Veer (10).

As housing affordability becomes further out of reach for many young Aussies, young adults are cooping up with Mum and Dad longer.

Newcastle couple Victor and Abha Prasad are preparing to downsize from their large six bedroom family abode to a four-bedroom apartment in Sydney’s North.

Unlike traditional downsizers, they’re bringing their kids with them.

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Although Mr and Ms Prasad don’t anticipate becoming empty-nesters anytime soon – with their youngest aged only 10 years old – they’ve chosen to seize the opportunity and purchase a family-sized apartment off the plan, ensuring ample space for their family of five.

The Prasad’s are a tight knit family.

“We wanted to get ahead of the market and think about future living right now,” Mr Prasad said. “The idea was to move now and only have to move once and grow old in this property.”

Mr Prasad said his family were looking to the future – not just for their own retirement, but opening up options for their children too.

“Arya is in uni now and so we wanted to move for the education for our kids but also finding the right fit for us. She’s 21 and might not move out for another 10 years,” he said. “We are a pretty close knit family, the idea of being together for the next 15 years is actually pretty appealing for us.”

Mr McCrindle said the trend was a marked departure from previous generations.

Mr Prasad said they would have to adjust to not having us much space in their new abode.

“We have a generation now that are thinking about their children and recognising that how their parents got into the market 20 years ago is not possible for their children so they’re recognising that they might be part of that solution,” he said.

Ray White chief economist Nerida Conisbee said housing choice played a big part when it came to hesitant downsizers.

“There are a lot of older people who don’t need to live in big family houses, but they continue to do so because they don’t have the housing choice available,” she said.

Ray White director Tim Abbott noticed a trend towards families catering for their adult children staying at home longer.

“While they (the kids) are saving for their own place and or still at university there’s still a bit of coming and going with them moving out. So what we find is that its good to have a dwelling that accommodates that,” he said.

Willoughby Grounds apartments were appealing to downsizers with family due to their large floor plan.

“People have been hanging onto their houses for these reasons, but we are seeing a shift to apartments as long as they’ve got what is suitable.”

Mr Abbott said Willoughby Grounds was meeting a gap in the market for downsizers by building apartments with more bedrooms, larger floor sizes and common green spaces without the dreaded maintenance.

“Downsizers, especially those with families haven’t had a lot of choice, but we are finding they can get a lot more size for a similar sort of budget at Willoughby Grounds.”

Willoughby Grounds artist impression features green common areas for residents.

Mr Prasad said a large family home with lower maintenance was part of the appeal of downsizing and taking the kids along for the ride.

“The area we have chosen has all the amenities we need,” he said, noting their new complex would have a pool, gym and shopping complex within walking distance.

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