Lifestyle and financial choices exercised by the baby boomer generation are likely to create increased demand for housing throughout regional Australia. More than any other generation, those born between 1946 and 1964 will have the greatest influence on property markets over the next twenty years.
Those who were born between 1946 and 1964 will turn 65 years of age from 2011 to 2030. The first of the baby boomer generation are already five years in to the retirement phase of their life. Don’t be surprised if tens (may be hundreds) of thousands end up organising a removal truck and relocate to one of the many beautiful parts of regional Australia in search of a sea-change or tree-change.
Given that baby boomers represent 21 per cent of Australia’s population and that a very high proportion have insufficient retirement savings, downsizing the family home will become the most practical option for most; in many cases it will be the only option. And, when Australia’s baby boomer population equates to 4.45 million people, even if only a small portion did relocate it will create significant extra demand for housing in the regions.
This very real scenario is one of several reasons why Propertyology has always maintained an open mind to taking advantage of property investment opportunities in parts of regional Australia. Whether coastal or rural, we believe that the regional cities which will be in highest demand by baby-boomer relocators will offer a combination of quality lifestyle, good health care, and availability of freestanding houses for less than $400,000.
As at September 2015, 2.5 million Australians were already in receipt of the aged pension. Unlike Gen X and Gen Y, baby boomers did not have their employer contributing towards superannuation until the back end of their working years. So, one way or another, around 90 per cent of this generation will have some reliance on a government-funded pension which already costs the country $44 billion per year (and growing very fast).
As baby boomers begin to realise that $32,000 per retired couple doesn’t provide for a lifestyle to their liking, many will explore options which probably never would have crossed their minds while they were busy fighting the rat race.
Some might elect to remain in their existing metropolis and downsize to apartment living. But, it’s worth remembering that baby boomers grew up in the era of the Victor lawnmower and Hills Hoist clothes line; the tool shed, back yard garden, and double carport for their boat or caravan may actually take on greater importance to them during retirement. When they gaze at their navel a bit longer, discover how much more affordable a detached house is in most of regional Australia, and think about the more relaxed lifestyle on offer they’ll need little convincing.
Let’s imagine that you’re that 65 year old couple who, for one reason or another, is about to finish working. You’ve probably become very accustomed to a certain lifestyle from your $100,000 plus combined household income and don’t wish to make all of the adjustments needed to get by on a $32,000 annual pension. That couple of hundred thousand dollars in superannuation will only stretch so far.
Let’s also imagine that your four-bedroom family home on the traditional quarter acre block is debt free and worth $600,000. The best card to play from what you’ve been dealt may be to downsize to a home worth (say) $400,000, thereby freeing up $200,000 cash to supplement your income.
There are around forty regional cities which perform the role of pseudo capital city, offering all of the essential infrastructure as Australia’s official eight capital cities. As at June 2015, 8.2 million people already reside in regional Australia (that’s 1 in 3 people who elect to live outside of a capital city). Over the last five years, regional Australia’s average annual population growth rate of 1.1 per cent is higher than Adelaide and Hobart and not that much lower than Sydney and Canberra (both 1.6%).
For property investors, the advantages of investing in regional Australia include a smaller capital outlay to get in to the market, higher rental yields, lower holding costs, and diversification within a portfolio. When analysed on an average annual capital growth rate over the last fifteen years, many regional cities have actually outperformed capital cities. And, with industries like agriculture, tourism, and advanced manufacturing very well positioned to prosper from the Asian Century, it shouldn’t be difficult at all to understand that the investment fundamentals are very sound.
In New South Wales, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie offer the quiniela of good health care and coastal lifestyle although the median house price is circa $450,000. Those who favour a picturesque rural lifestyle can strike the trifecta in strong regional cities like Armidale (a university city surrounded by natural wonder), Orange (a foodie heaven and medical specialist hub), the country music capital of Tamworth, Dubbo (with quality retail facilities, tourist attractions like the Western Plains zoo, and daily flights to Australia’s three biggest capital cities), or Wagga Wagga (the gateway to Australia’s agriculture and wine capital).
The decentralised nature of Queensland’s population is such that baby boomers and property investors are spoilt for choice. The trifecta of beautiful coastal lifestyle, affordable housing, and quality health infrastructure exist in Cairns, Townsville, and Hervey Bay. Those who favour the land over the sea will appreciate Toowoomba (Australia’s second biggest inland city) and the aptly-named Scenic Rim.
The biggest bang for your buck is found in arguably the most beautiful state in Australia, Tasmania. There’s a very good reason why its current average household age of 40 is ahead of the national average (37). Hobart is the only Australian capital city which ticks the box for detached houses under $400,000. For even more affordable options, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie each have essential infrastructure and lifestyle in spades.
Western Australia has strong regional cities with seaside lifestyles in Albany and Bunbury although my pick of the bunch is Geraldton.
The city which boats the highest number of millionaires per capita is the seafood haven of Port Lincoln in South Australia. In Victoria, both Bendigo and Ballarat have populations circa 100,000 people, lifestyle attractions centred around Australia’s gold rush history, and detached houses for sub $350,000.
If ‘downsizing’ to you means ‘same city, smaller digs’, you certainly won’t have a problem finding an apartment. The number of attached dwellings (apartments and townhouses) built nationally has increased from 31 per cent for the two years ending December 2007 to a 47 per cent over the two years ending December 2015. 90 per cent of Australia’s new apartment approvals during the most recent two year period were in capital cities. Your options might still be limited in that sub $400,000 bracket though!
Simon Pressley is Managing Director of Propertyology, a REIA Hall Of Fame Inductee, property market analyst, accredited property investment adviser, and Buyer’s Agent. Propertyology works exclusively with property investors to purchase properties in strategically chosen locations all over Australia.