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About 5.5 million baby boomers – people born between 1946 and 1964 – have either reached retirement age or are closing fast.

What do we know about these older Australians – their financial and personal situations, their fears, their aims?

YourLifeChoices’ 2019 Insights Survey – the eighth Insights survey conducted by Australia’s longest established retirement website – reveals much.

Of the 7760 respondents, most (54.5 per cent) were aged between 65 and 74.

Of all respondents, 61.58 per cent were fully retired, 15.31 per cent worked part-time and 10.58 per cent worked full-time.

Of those not yet retired, a surprising 23.97 per cent said they were planning to retire some time after they turned 70, 13.39 per cent at 70 and 15.51 per cent at 65.

The overwhelming reasons for retiring were health (43.64 per cent) followed by the availability of work (24.27 per cent).

Almost one-third of respondents were on a full Age Pension (32.19 per cent), with almost another third on a part-Age Pension (30.64 per cent), while 26.75 per cent were self-funded retirees.

A significant 72.23 per cent owned their home outright, another 14.56 per cent owned their home with a mortgage, while 13.21 per cent were renters. Among the homeowners, there were no plans to change anything soon. When asked if they were planning to sell in the next two years, 90.81 per cent said no. Were they planning to downsize? Another resounding no (83.87 per cent).

However, for all those older Australians with the bulk of their wealth locked in real estate, a key concern was maintaining their current lifestyle as they age. In YourLifeChoices’ 2019 Ensuring Financial Security in Retirement Survey, almost one-third (33.2 per cent of respondents) admitted they were somewhat concerned and 11.77 per cent said they were very concerned about their ability to continue to finance their lifestyle.

In the same survey, YourLifeChoices respondents were asked about the importance of aged care planning. While 62 per cent said it was either important or very important, almost half said they had no idea how much they would need to contribute to aged care.

Which brings us to the importance of the family home – on both financial and lifestyle fronts. In addition to the monetary value of this asset, a significant percentage of older Australians say they want to age at home and – as evidenced by our Insights survey – have no plans to move any time soon.

Many older Australians have made superannuation payments only since it became compulsory in 1992, yet they have also ridden a wave of growth in property values. Their home is their castle, but they also need a reliable income stream.

Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report puts the median net wealth of Australians at $271,000 per adult – the highest in the world – but it says that more than a third of our population aged 65-plus are living in relative income poverty in retirement – the second highest rate in the OECD.

While such strategies as the Pension Loans Scheme, reverse mortgages and downsizing may suit, the door is open for other products to release equity in the family home. Watch this space.

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the March 2019 Retirement Affordability Index.

Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

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Written by Janelle Ward


Total Comments: 7
  1. 0

    let us hope those coming behind learn from the current crop of retirees and plan for their retirement!

    • 0

      in addition to all that learning about planning for retirement they will also benefit by inheriting the accumulated wealth of the current crop of retirees. What goes around, comes around and karma will reward them.

  2. 0

    The supposed high net wealth is almost entirely due to the value of the house people live in. That’s going down fast. Redo the survey in 2 years time YLC.

    • 0

      Property prices would need to take a real dive before they would change the analysis. Yes they may be lower in two years but for most folk who have owned property for more than 10 years they will still be well in front. For the speculators who “invested” in the mining towns, sorry you rolled the dice.

    • 0

      Good point Mick – already evident in my neck of the woods. When you owe more than your joint is worth, things are no longer funny. In this country you cannot just throw the keys to the bank and say: It’s yours, I am out of it. Was possible in the U.S. and that led to the subprime crisis, starting early 2008. Love to see the survey in 2 years’ time.

  3. 0

    All of the current “strategies” to increase income by using housing equity are detrimental over the long term.

  4. 0

    Someone on here said recently they would rather have the pension than their $1m which astounded me. I asked my other half who said, “can we arrange a swap?”
    Pensioners live on less than the amounts quoted above and some even rent.
    We don’t live in the family home, not for many years actually! But we have room for broken family members and at the moment we are keeping a daughter who has nothing, zip.
    It is surprising how far the pension can stretch when needed.
    To own your own home in retirement is the main cushioning you can hope for.
    Downsizing does not really work. By the time you pay all the expenses involved in moving you could be worse off unless you move to woop woop. We don’t live in a big city but we can drive there in a reasonable time. We are not selling or moving.



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