With housing security a stress factor for many retirees, a leading retirement living operator says without action now, the demand for government assistance and affordable living options will only increase in the coming decades.
The October federal budget saw older Australians largely left behind, with $250 cash payments (December and March) and a drop in interest rates that will affect the income of partially-funded and self-funded retirees.
Ingenia Communities' general manager, residential communities, Nicole Jentz, welcomed the financial assistance for pensioners but said more was needed to help people live comfortably in retirement.
"Many Aussies struggle to fund their retirement and with the number of retirees who own their own home predicted to drop by 19 per cent by 2056, we need to see more support for them," Ms Jentz said.
"The age pension and superannuation are two key components of most people's retirement income, so more significant support will be needed to help Australian retirees. We shouldn't see people living under financial stress when they should be enjoying their retirement years."
The sale of the family home is a common funding source, but home ownership among future retirees is expected to drop and access to alternatives in affordable retirement living will become even more essential.
Land lease providers like Ingenia Lifestyle (part of the Lifestyle Communities stable) already offer retirees an alternative to traditional home ownership, with a business model that separates ownership of house and land, to allow downsizers to release the equity in their existing home upon sale and reduce costs.
Ms Jentz said financial security, independence, and a sense of control in all aspects of life are key drivers in retirement living decisions - and even more so in the shadows of COVID-19.
"The Ingenia Lifestyle model challenges traditional retirement living and home ownership models by offering retirees independence, flexibility and financial security with the added benefit of being able to live in a supportive, social community of like-minded people," Ms Jentz said.
Ingenia Lifestyle operates 19 communities across Australia, with four in Queensland. Residents have no stamp duty, exit fees or council rates and have access to resort-style facilities. They pay a weekly site fee, which covers the lease of the land, and may also be eligible to claim rent assistance to help cover site fees.
"We are continually striving for ways to help residents be more financially secure whether through new housing options like the $199,000 homes we've introduced, or through workshops with financial experts," Ms Jentz said.