At least 50 percent of Australian residents over age 55 would consider downsizing, says a report based upon a survey of 2,400 households.

The primary obstacle to relocating to a smaller residence is a lack of available houses that adhere to their needs and wants. The quick growth in the population of senior Australians exacerbates the primary challenge that the housing industry confronts in fulfilling their varied housing requirements.

Downsizing, or rightsizing, is an important way to meet the housing needs of senior Australians. And the act of downsizing cultivates available housing for younger households by making more family living space available.

Downsizing can empower senior Australians to age healthily and at home, as opposed to moving too early into a residential care facility.

The report, released recently through the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), involved responses from 2,400 households aged older than 55. It revealed that 26% of these households had downsized. An additional third had considered it. The results reference a strong interest among senior Australians to downsize their homes.

With approximately 6.5 Australians now aged 55 or older, residing in approximately 4.3 million households, the results suggest that the concept of downsizing could be pertinent to 2.5 million households.

Sometimes elder Australians downsize to accommodate life changes regarding health and relationship status, or because of kids departing the family house. Different lifestyle choices and problems tending their garden or home also influence downsizing trends.

Challenges to downsizing include a lack of available, well-suited housing and a depletion of financial incentives. And the process of moving in itself presents physical and financial challenges. Yet financial issues do not intensely influence the decision to relocate.

If people who downsized expressed dissatisfaction with their choice, it was due to the size and surrounding neighbourhood of their new home.

Older Australians believe that extra bedrooms are needed to serve as guest rooms (58%), as home offices (50%), or as reserved bedrooms for children or grandchildren (31%).

Space is a priority for Australian downsizers. More than half of them relocate to a residence with three or more bedrooms. A third of them relocate to an apartment.

Yet two-thirds of downsizers questioned did relocate to a home with fewer bedrooms. A trio of boudoirs was the preferred home size for senior Australians, who also expressed a need to limit the size of their garden.

Senior Australians want to own their own homes. Their neighbourhood of choice comes complete with shopping, medical, recreational and public transportation available within walking distance.

Downsizers are mobile, as would be indicated by the fact that 42% relocated to a neighbourhood unknown to them.

The survey uncovered the fact that many downsizers found a lack of good housing choices in their home neighbourhoods.

If their city’s home market lacks sufficient choices available to accommodate the needs of older residents, it is tough to downsize in the same region. Yet the act of relocating to another community also can pose problems.

Meeting the requirements of senior Australians may mean an increased need for medium-density housing. Developers need incentives to build these medium-density housing offerings, as opposed to more profitable high-density developments.

The retirement industry has come to the rescue, in many ways meeting the needs of older Australians. It is offering more sizable dwellings and providing an increasing selection of pricing choices, from upscale to affordable — all of which are easy to access and proper for ageing in place.

Equity-possessing senior Australians may want to downsize to a newly constructed home. But they are not able to borrow enough money to do this sans sufficient capital.

To facilitate this option, new development finance models must be devised; permitting senior Australians to develop new homes without first having to sell their primary residence. This shift would permit more collaborative ways of development, like a collective of likeminded individuals developing a site as a residential option for a smaller scale community.

For renters ready to retire, more secure rental homes–made available through the social housing sector–are needed. The community housing sector must play their part in the process.

The Australian residential landscape must adopt a model of diverse housing with secure tenures – ownership and rental – in neighbourhoods where people can walk with ease to essential services, social and recreation facilities, and transportation centres.

Design is another essential consideration. Australians require adaptable housing that can shift to accommodate their housing needs.

This landscape will supply sufficient downsizing choices for elder Australians; places in which they can age with grace.