Oct 18, 2023

Older people giving up their “Australian dream” for their young family members

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Scott Robinson, Rachael Robinson and Renee Robinson in the backyard where their new granny flat will go. [Source: Herald Sun - Josie Hayden]

The great “Australian dream” has historically been buying a nice house with a big backyard on a quiet street – but that dream is almost non-existent for today’s first-home buyers.

Now, older Australians have begun moving into granny flats, handing over their homes to their children and grandchildren to keep a roof over their heads during our national housing crisis.

New legislation is set to come into effect in Victoria at the end of this year allowing granny flats to be eligible to be rented out, a move aimed at combating dire levels of housing availability.

Similar plans are in the process over in South Australia too, although it was already legal to allow family members to rent out these flats in both States.

But, according to the Herald Sun, housing providers and real estate agents have said that many older people had already selflessly moved from their homes so that their grandchildren or children could experience living in a family home prior to the legislative changes.

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Different types of granny flats can be purchased for different living requirements and local council restrictions. [Source: Elpor]

Victorian grandmother Racheal Robinson is one of these older people putting their younger family members first. The 79-year-old sold her long-term home so the funds could buy her son Scott, his wife, and her granddaughter a property on the Mornington Peninsula with a granny flat for her.

“We have been renting for the last 10 years and the only way to get back on the ladder was to combine forces,” Mr Robinson told the Herald Sun.

In Australia, older people traditionally have very high rates of home ownership, and though the vast majority have said they prefer to age at home, a third of this demographic say they have homes that are too big for their needs.

Earlier this month, Downsizer.com economist Michael Blythe said retirees living in properties with more bedrooms than they need are contributing to the nation’s housing crisis, suggesting older people should downsize to free up more space for others in need.

Mr Blythe told 9News the solution isn’t easy, but tough decisions must soon be made before the situation deteriorates further. “It is complicated and we need to make it easier.”

“We talk about a housing shortage in Australia, but what economists will tell you is we’ve got an excess of bedrooms, just not in the right place […] maybe instead of first home buyers, we should be thinking about last home buyers.”

Many retirees, however, say they are put off by the daunting administration process and upfront costs and don’t want to leave the home they have lived in for decades.

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  1. We had a bit of a look at this a couple of years ago. At the time our 100 square metre 3 bedroom house on a 1000 square metre block was worth about $300 000. 320 minutes from large regional town. It was probably going to cost about $250 000 for 850 square metres 2 bedroom unit by the time connected to all services on a daughters property. After we finished with it the family would be lucky to get $50 000 for it.

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