In new research presented in an informative and entertaining session at the 2017 ASFA National Conference, Bernard Salt used Census data to describe how Australian retirees with property in capital cities are downsizing and diving into sea or climbing into tree changes.
Some locations already have large numbers of retirees and in others the proportion of retirees is starting to grow significantly. At least some of this growth is driven by financial considerations. However, other factors can also be important. For instance, Tasmania and South Australia have higher proportions of older Australians, perhaps because some younger people have gone interstate for jobs.
For most individuals, the family home and superannuation form most of their financial assets when they retire. Both are crucial to the standard of living of individuals in retirement. An increasing number of retirees are also retiring with some level of mortgage debt.
Others can be asset rich but cash poor with a large part of their wealth in the family home.
Many retirees are also seeking a better and less stressful lifestyle in retirement.
In NSW, Forster-Tuncurry is a sea change hotspot. Around 32 per cent of the population are 65 plus and not in the labour force. While some of this group would have lived in the area for a very long time, others have moved there more recently. Such moves can be beneficial with many sea changers moving to Forster-Tuncurry in a position to liberate significant capital, with the median house price $650,000 less than in Sydney.
That is a lot of money that can be used to pay off a mortgage or fund a better retirement lifestyle.
However, in states other than Victoria or NSW the amount of capital that can be liberated by moving from the capital city is much less, given lower median house prices in the capital cities concerned.
Inspired by the Bernard Salt analysis, I have been undertaking further research on where older Australians concentrate geographically, on take-up rates of the Age Pension by region, and on average superannuation balances by region.
Sea change and tree change locations, not surprisingly, are not necessarily as affluent as capital cities and they generally have a lot of Age Pensioners, though quite a few of them lived in the areas in the first place.
There is considerable variation in the take-up rate of the Age Pension around the country. While over 80 per cent of those aged over 65 who are in the electorates of Wills and Port Adelaide are on the Age Pension, only just over 30 per cent of those aged over 65 in the electorates of Bradfield, Wentworth, and Kooyong are.
There are relatively large numbers of pensioners on the north coast of NSW and around the fringes of Brisbane and Melbourne. The electorate of Gilmore, which is around Batemans Bay, is where many Canberra people go to retire. The local loggers and fishers also tend not to be very affluent.
The data confirm that Forster-Tuncurry is an ageing hotspot, with the electorate of Lyne having the highest concentration of those aged over 65 of all electorates in the land. Hinkler, Gilmore and Wide Bay closely follow. The youngest electorates are Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, the stomping grounds of the childless and Millennials.
The Bradfield electorate is around the middle of the pack. However, here retirees tend to gather around the St Ives and Gordon shops (Bradfield is my local electorate), making it hard to do your shopping in a hurry.
Having a stick, walking frame or grey hair seems almost mandatory for their shopping visits. And the amount of money being spent confirms the official data indicating relatively low take-up rates for the Age Pension and relatively high average superannuation balances.
Superannuation balances average around $270,000 around the Bradfield electorate, but there are areas around the country with much higher average balances. For Toorak residents the average is $770,246 with a median of $92,755 (the median being when 50 per cent of people have more than the median amount and 50 per cent have less). This postcode has the third highest average balances, after Portsea in Victoria and Palm Beach in NSW. Affluence tends to be concentrated in certain suburbs.
Things are a bit different in Fairfield and a number of outer western suburbs of Sydney. There the average super balance is $48,742 and a median of $17,803.
The ASFA Research Centre will be publishing a more comprehensive paper on the geography of retirement and retirement income in the not too distant future.