THERE is a common misconception that ‘emptynesters’ sell their large family homes to downsize into trendy, inner-city apartments.
According to Glenn Capuano, a Census expert with Melbourne-based demography, housing and spatial analysis company .id (informed decisions), it’s not the case as the city is largely still the domain of the young.
He says migration charts show that for inner city areas, people move into cities between 18-24 for work opportunities, tertiary education and the lifestyle attraction of the “bright lights”, before moving out at around 30 when they start to have children.
“Generally, our inner cities feature high density accommodation, while families prefer separate houses. It may seem logical that after children leave home, empty nesters want to downsize, but downsizing may not always be an option,” he said.
“Ability and motivation to downsize can be affected by the high cost of moving, the increasing numbers of children coming back to live with their parents, and a lack of local downsizing options where empty nesters can maintain a connection to the local community.”
Mr Capuano points to the migration charts from a number of inner-city Local Government Areas (LGAs) which highlight the small amount of people aged 55 to 64 moving into the city.
For example, in the City of Sydney LGA, data derived from the Census questions, ‘Where does the person usually live?’ and ‘Where did the person usually live five years ago (at 7 August 2001)’ shows 2,036 moved in while 2,008 moved out leaving net migration of 28.
The story is repeated in Melbourne’s Port Phillip, Perth’s Subiaco and Adelaide the figures tell a similar story (see links to charts below).
“So, nationally there doesn’t appear to be a huge trend of empty nesters moving into the inner city, unless they lived not far away to begin with,” he said. “If you look at any of the migration by age by location charts in profile.id, you’ll see that those aged 55+ move in lesser numbers than younger groups, and consistently move either to nearby areas, or to coastal retirement destinations. Inner cities rarely feature in the top 10 destinations.”
However, this trend may change with the Herald Sun reporting on one plan by a major city lobby group to offer stamp duty relief for emptynesters in established suburbs to downsize.
The Committee for Melbourne is also appealing to the moral sense of empty nesters to free up prime space so that younger generations can be closer to schools and other services.
The call comes amid community concern about a move by an eastern suburbs council to earmark 48 sites for apartment blocks of up to six storeys.
Committee for Melbourne CEO Andrew MacLeod said yesterday that older people without children at home should be encouraged to downsize for society’s sake.
“Grandma and grandpa lived near the schools that mum and dad went to. Mum and dad therefore have to live further away from the schools,” he said.
“If they are an empty-nester living near a school they are actually taking a role that from a society’s perspective would be better taken by a family.”