Rightsizing – the New Trend

December 2nd, 2022

The new property trend emerging is high-end downsizing – now called rightsizing. This is empty-nesters moving from rural homes on acreage into larger, luxury units.  If they can find them that is! Byron Shire has not been proactive in delivering this stock to this demographic.

This new report from Knight Frank, Rightsizing – Australian Prime Residential Insight 2020, has found the downsizing lifestyle trend towards top-end, low-maintenance apartment living is equally strong with both families and active retirees.

Roadblocks to Density

Recent census data has shown that there are too many large homes inhabited by singles or couples. The advantage of downsizing is that it frees up these larger family homes for younger families. Equally, people’s antagonism to density development, especially in more wealthy neighborhoods, has made the move to smaller dwellings more sluggish. This article deals with the social movement, YIMBYs, who wish to reverse this resistance.

Admittedly there are other factors that are roadblocks to this necessary recycling. For many, the sale of the family home will trigger complications with pensions and superannuation. The recent Federal budget included an interesting policy proposal giving retirees more incentive to finance a downsizing.  The government’s proposal will soften that blow and allow a two-year assets exemption and reduce the threshold from 65 to 55 years.

Some options

Some senior living residential villages are already catering to this market. But they are scarce and can be excessively expensive. Palm Lakes Resort in Ballina is a good example of this model. The units are similar in price to a freehold house but the body corporate takes a sizable chunk of change when the unit is sold after the resident has moved on.

In Byron, there are some suitable options for downsizing. The Jonson Lane development at the south end of Jonson Street is now open and buzzing. The new development on the old Woolworth’s site in Jonson Street is now being marketed as The Bohemian . There is also The Bonobo by Rae’s on the old backpacker site at 116 Jonson Street (formerly branded as The Barbotine).  Owner-occupiers are only able to stay a max of 90 days so this one will not be suitable for downsizing.

Master planning unconventional developments are slow to arrive here in Australia. Just like the trend for Digital Nomads, this kind of dwelling is strong on social interactivity and group spaces. A good rightsizing apartment needs to include amenities, leisure spaces, and infrastructure. The desire for living this way can also be cost-effective as outlined in this article about Cohousing. Also gaining traction as an option for better-off retirees is now shared equity homeownership like this model by Ko-Homes.

More Options Needed

Legislation, restrictive compliance, and opposition to density make the supply of downsizing options scarce. Byron Shire is understandably hesitant over too much development, but a well-designed master plan can house more people while still delivering ecological benefits by not creating more urban sprawl.

Encouraging downsizing could deliver some of the much-needed housing quicker and more efficiently than the currently fought-for 90-day restriction on Short Term Holiday Letting – as outlined here in last month’s edition.

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