In the right suburb, a smaller home can herald a big lifestyle
The baby boom has come full circle. What started with a rise in family size post WWII, is finishing with middle-aged couples home alone in large houses, and a downsizing trend that’s reshaping retirement lifestyles.
According to government statistics, over the next 20 years the number of couples living without children in their home is set to rise to 45 percent of all families, and empty-nesters will be the most significant factor in this growth.
Partly reflecting this change in demographics, nationwide consents for new houses have dropped by 2 percent year-on-year, while apartments and townhouses are up, by 34 percent and 28 percent respectively. In Auckland, especially, the move is towards medium-density, easy-to-maintain townhouses and apartments.
These types of more affordable homes are helping to drive a resurgence in first-home buyers. For empty nesters, however, it’s not just about cost – it’s also about location and lifestyle. When choosing where to enjoy their retirement – whether in a relaxed beachside suburb, or a cool inner-city area – downsizers are choosing to maximise their social lives.
“From the inner city, to the North Shore and up to Orewa, we’re seeing a lot of demand for apartments and smaller houses and a good proportion of this is from buyers who are looking to downsize in retirement,” says Daniel Coulson, Bayleys national residential manager.
For quality apartments and townhouses, in vibrant communities with good amenities, where are Auckland’s hotspots for making the most of a downsized retirement?
1) Inner city
Over the past 20 years, Auckland’s CBD has transformed. Once the domain of high-rise tenements packed with students, the central city now has a range of apartments and town-house developments catering for a discerning market. The benefits of living in the beautiful harbourside areas around the Viaduct and Wynyard Quarter are self-evident, especially with the buzz of the America’s Cup. A couple of kilometres further up the hill, demand for smaller homes and apartments around Herne Bay and Ponsonby is strong, as the exclusive areas combine the lifestyle benefits of big-city living with a community feel.
2) Eastern Suburbs
Parnell and Remuera have always been popular with retirees – but the exclusive enclaves are expensive. A little further east, the apartments and townhouses being built in the Stonefields development offer all the benefits of Eastern Bays living, with less of a hit on the pocket. The community has strong transport links, great local amenities and is only a ten-minute drive to the beautiful beachside suburbs of St Heliers, Kohimarama and Mission Bay.
3) North Shore
The biggest concentration of new apartments and townhouses being consented in Auckland is on the North Shore, in both the Albany Ward – stretching from Long Bay to Campbells Bay – and the North Shore Ward, closer to the city. In Bayleys’ sales room, two suburbs stand out as hotspots for those looking to flavour their retirement years with a beach vibe: Takapuna and Milford. Both areas are set for more multi-million dollar developments over coming years.
4) Hobsonville Point
Hobsonville Point is a major reason why Albany Ward is experiencing such strong growth. Viewers of the recent series of The Block will be very familiar with the high-quality development. From apartments to lock-up-and-leave town houses, Hobsonville Point offers a range of affordable housing options, great amenities and a proud community in a beautiful waterside setting.
Since the opening of the Northern Motorway in the late 1990s, Orewa has experienced a boom. It’s always been a favourite spot with retirees, but over the past two decades the influx of people and businesses has seen Orewa change from a sleepy coastal community to a sought-after beachside suburb. There are numerous new developments in the area, offering a range of homes for downsizers, all near the beach and with direct access to the city.