The property boom and ‘selfish’ baby boomers

aerial view of houses in australian suburbia

Even ‘poor blind Nellie’ knows that property prices are going up, and up and up.

‘Affordable housing’ is a long dead phrase. Young couples, both working, have to share with others to be able to not live with parents.

Single adults, unless they are in the ‘silver spoon’ category, are in a desperate position. Single mothers are perhaps in the worst position of all.

Property owners, investors and land agents continue to rub their hands in glee and speak excitedly of the property boom.

Read: Why a thank-you card made Peter cry

News bulletins and politicians eulogise and tell us that this boom is a sign the economy is recovering and all is well with our world.

What they entirely fail to mention is that this same property boom is a clear indicator of the ever-increasing personal greed of us, older Australian ‘investors’ – the self-funded retirees who have “worked hard all our lives and saved our money”.

We are the long-term beneficiaries of negative gearing and reduced capital gains tax.

We are the people who own one or more investment properties and are sometimes prepared to have them remain vacant and simply appreciate rather than spend money maintaining or repairing them.

Read: Living life not talking death

In my suburb, and there are many like it around Australia, older people like me – singles or couples –sit looking out the windows of our three and four-bedroom, two or three-bathroom houses at the quiet street outside, contemplating the fact that our house is increasing in value at the rate of perhaps a thousand dollars a month – maybe more. Such a comforting thought.

It occurs to too few that we could easily share our too-big house with another elderly couple or a mature-age student at the local university. Two retired teacher friends did this several times and made lifelong friends of the overseas female academics they homed.

In fact, when one of those Australian women died, the Cambodian woman she had ‘housed’ asked her family if she could take some of the ashes to her family temple in Phnom Penh to join her family there.

There really are better options to sitting in our homes and being greedy, selfish and mean.

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Written by Peter Leith

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