Ageing in place: How to make it work for your retirement

It’s common to read about retirees downsizing and moving to a smaller place as they age, but what about those who wish to stay in the family home? This is generally referred to as ageing in place in Australia. Read on to learn more about some of the benefits of ageing in place and how to make it work in retirement.

What is ageing in place?

Ageing in place generally means staying in the family home after retirement. According to a December 20201 study by Household Capital, most Australian retirees plan on staying in the family home rather than downsizing to a new, generally smaller home. Whether you decide to age in place or move somewhere during your retirement is entirely up to you. Ageing in place is a popular choice in Australia. In fact, 76 per cent2 of over-60s asked in a 2015 Productivity Commission report said they wished to experience retirement within their own home.

What are the benefits of ageing in place?

There are a few different ageing in place benefits for those that wish to choose this path after retirement.

  • A familiar space – Many people may like to stay in the home they know and love. 
  • Can modify home– The family home can often be modified to accommodate changing needs and requirements.
  • Often simpler – Staying in one place will generally mean you can avoid the stress and fees associated with moving, which may seem a bit too much to handle.
  • Established network – Downsizing can often also mean moving away from an area that you know, your regular shops and routine, and an established network of friends and family.

How to make ageing in place work

While ageing in place can be an appealing option for many retirees, it’s important to make sure you have a plan in place for the lifestyle choice. There are a few things to consider before you decide to settle on ageing in place.

Make sure you have the funds

One of the reasons people may choose to downsize after retirement is because they don’t have the funds to maintain their home repayments or experience the retirement they want while staying in a large home. Work out your retirement budget, including the type of life you wish to lead, and decide whether the family home fits into this picture. 

Consider making a few home modifications

When thinking about ageing in place, you’ll likely need to consider making a few changes around the home. This can include installing additional handrails, removing the bathtub below the shower, widening doorways for possible wheelchair accessibility, and installing a stairlift for multi-storey properties. Don’t forget to update any items purchased or significant changes made to your home in your Home and Contents insurance policy.3

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Evaluate your home

Another element to consider is whether your home is suitable for ageing in. While some modifications can be simple enough to make, other homes may just be a poor fit for ageing people. A multi-storey house may not be ideal for accessibility as you get older, nor a home that requires an excessive amount of upkeep. Give an honest evaluation of your family home and decide whether it’s suitable for ageing in. 

Begin thinking about in-home care

While it may be a long way in the future, it can be a good idea to think about the possibility of in-home care so that you have a plan if and when it’s needed. It might be beneficial to chat with friends and family about the possibility and do a little research into different in-home care providers. It might also prove worthwhile to let friends and family know your wishes and preferences relating to in-home care. 

1 My home is my castle, Household Capital, 2020 
2 Housing Decisions of Older Australians, Productivity Commission, 2015 

3 Australia Post home and motor insurance is issued and underwritten by QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited (ABN 78 003 191 035, AFSL 239545) (QBE). Australian Postal Corporation (ABN 28 864 970 579, AR No: 338646) is an authorised representative of Australia Post Services Pty Limited (ABN 67 002 599 340, AFSL 457551) which is acting (under its own AFSL) on behalf of QBE. Any advice provided is general only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and may not be right for you. To decide if this product is right for you, please read the relevant Combined Financial Services Guide and Product Disclosure Statement. Any reference to value and competitiveness refers to an average market segment and may not include your specific circumstances.