Popularised by the beloved television program 15 years ago, the sea change phenomenon just won’t go away.
It is no secret that Baby Boomers do things their own way. They have bucked trends, and created new ones, at every stage of their development. As Boomers retire over time many have realised they no longer need to commute to the CBD for work on a regular basis, freeing up their choice of location for living.
Many choose to stay in the family home, at least for a few years post retirement as they want to stagger any drastic changes after adjusting to the initial big one of ceasing full time paid employment.
Eventually a significant number decide to embrace change. There is no bigger change than deciding to sell the family home and move to a smaller property or one in a quieter location.
For many Boomers it is the first major property change they have had to face in decades, so it is normal to feel a lot of emotion.
However, many are not “downsizing” into units as was predicted years ago by demographers. Instead, a lot of Boomers are “Downshifting”. What is the difference?
Well the Sea Changers we see on a regular basis are doing 2 things by relocating.
1 - They are creating the lifestyle they always wanted. No longer stuck in the city suburbs they want a home with some peace and quiet, but they don’t want to compromise.
Downsizing presents an exciting opportunity for a fresh start close to the beach, or with a view of the bush, , which sure beats traffic noise and high-rise.
But Boomers don’t want to be 10 hrs drive away from everything. Proximity to the cities (usually the one they are from) is a big drawcard as it allows them to keep social ties, part time work commitments and the like without needing to book a plane or drive all day. 2-3 hrs is a common request we receive when talking to Baby Boomers making a sea change.
2 - They are putting a little extra aside for retirement savings. Selling the Sydney family home usually means a quality home on the coast can be purchased and $200-600k can be kept aside to put into the super fund. This can often double a super fund balance and make all the difference in terms of sustainable income.
Thanks to the new Downsizer Contributions law introduced last year….
Boomers over 65 can now sell the family home and put $300k per person into the super fund tax free.
This is a game changer for Boomers who find themselves asset rich and cash poor. A tax free way to supercharge savings and make retirement an abundant experience instead of a miserly one.
It makes the sea change or “downshift” so much more attractive as a couple can massively increase income for no loss of lifestyle.
See the example below:
John and Jan are 67yrs old, they choose to leave a 4 bedroom home in Sydney (for example sold for $1.4m) and purchase an equivalent 4 bedroom home on the south coast, walk to beach and cafes for $800k - put $600k into the super fund and double or triple their income with no net losses apart from buying/selling costs. Their super balance could have risen from $350k up to $950k or thereabouts, meaning they no longer need to erode capital or rely on a pension. (Disclaimer - we are property people not financial planners so please get your own financial advice before making any decisions about superannuation!)
But wait, why buy a 4 bedroom home? Don’t Boomers only want a small unit now that the kids have left home?
Well, yes, some boomers do actually downsize. Villas and smaller properties have their place. But what we have found from hundreds of client interactions is that many actually want space. Space from the neighbours for privacy, an extra room or 2 for the grandkids to visit and space for a boat or caravan to park. It is also true that after a lifetime of raising a family the items that remain full of memories are hard to throw out, making unit living challenging.
A recent survey of nearly 4000 baby boomers confirmed that exrtra garage storage space and a good patio were amongst the top requirements for a retirement home to be suitable.
You might be surprised to hear that High density developments, roof top gardens and daycare centres nearby were actually some of the most UNWANTED items listed in the survey. Is it possible that High-rise developments in the city may not be as popular with Boomers as they think?
If you think about it, it isn’t rocket science. The wealthy have always enjoyed their space, and always bought beach houses in locations that are stunningly beautiful.
Being in a desirable location such as Kiama, Culburra Beach or Mollymook also means the kids and grandkids will really want to visit for holidays.
So why not? Boomers who have the means and are willing to embrace change are voting with their feet.
How viable is it? More viable than you may think. Improvements in local roads such as:
The Berry Bypass …
And the Albion Park bypass …
Are collectively making travel easier, faster and more convenient for workers, families and retirees alike to live on the beach and access the city when needed on a weekly or fortnightly basis.
The number of relocations is increasing and population growth means local schools are at capacity, plus the expansions of local hospitals such as Nowra - so good healthcare is increasingly available.
The future advent of driverless cars and transport improvements such as high speed rail can only accelerate these trends.
So what are the pitfalls to look out for? Well buying the wrong location (local knowledge is always best), buying the wrong kind of housing (steep driveways, steep high maintenance backyards and lots of dangerous staircases are all OFF the desired list) and paying too much (don’t just think that because a property is cheap in relation to Sydney, Canberra or Melbourne prices that it is good value).
In terms of things to look for - consider privacy, solar aspect, micro climate, proximity to beach, shops, and side yard access for extra vehicles which are all key considerations.
They say the grass is always greener, but many Boomers are discovering the secret that sometimes it just may be true. See our instagram history for a random sample of coastal homes we have helped our clients purchase near the beach in recent times. We love helping people make their property dreams a reality.
It may not make you a tv star, but some have found their patch of paradise and they seem to love it.