Seniors downsizing on their own terms: Overcoming planning, legal and policy impediments to the creation of alternative retirement communities

Terms such as ‘ageing in place’ and ‘downsizing’ have become ubiquitous in discourse about the accommodation choices of older people. The terms, while not mutually exclusive, are not necessarily symbiotic and mean different things to different people. It seems there are as many reasons for seniors making downsizing decisions as there are individual seniors. Some common themes have emerged however. First, despite the tacit encouragement of downsizing in Australia and elsewhere, most seniors resist moving in order to downsize. Second, although reluctance to downsize is based on a myriad of personal and financial considerations, product availability (or lack thereof) has been identified as a significant impediment to downsizing. Quite simply, many seniors who may be desirous of downsizing are discouraged from doing so due to the lack of suitable and affordable housing stock in familiar, accessible locations. This research aims to determine whether more seniors would choose to downsize if there was a greater variety of housing options available, particularly within existing communities. The research seeks to determine ‘what seniors want’ and assess new housing concepts, for example pocket communities, that are starting to emerge. The project then considers legal, planning and policy hurdles to realising these aspirations.