Housing for Seniors is a big issue in Australia at the moment. The shortage of affordable housing all around the country is a talking point, and it is especially difficult for seniors, and one group that is most affected are senior solo women.
People who are able to manage to live in their own homes well into their senior years are fortunate. I have a small number of friends, couples and singles, who still live in their own homes. They do need finances for the upkeep of the property and family or other support from time to time. I have one friend in her 90’s who still lives in her home, alone, and appears to manage well. She has no wish to move any time soon!
There are many retirement villages – they seem to be in every suburb or town, and the building of new ones continues. To live in one of these, generally, one needs to buy a house or unit, and the costs vary, but perhaps $300,000 to $500,00 is the amount of funds one needs, plus there are other ongoing costs. I know couples and singles living in such establishments and most appear to be content. There can be challenges living in these places, but generally, they are secure and safe, and work well as one’s “forever home”.
Rental Retirement Properties
There are many rental properties that provide especially for seniors. I am not very familiar with these, but they can be expensive.
Private Rental Properties
Very few of these are built for the “seniors” market. They are generally very expensive and pensioners pay around 70% of their income on rent, which long term is not suitable. Many of these tenants go without a range of things to ensure they have a roof over their heads. Food, medical treatment, entertainment and more can be too expensive, so they live a very frugal and often unhappy life as they cannot keep up.
Often the properties are not “geared” for seniors – steps and stairs can be an issue, along with a range of other things, depending on one’s health and mobility. There’s generally no “community” as such, and many seniors are isolated.
Sometimes, it is the only choice one has.
One generally finds that there are many negative tales about life in public housing. Crime, drugs, drunken neighbours, foul language and abuse are often rife. There is generally no security, no on-site manager and much isolation and apparent neglect in these places. I understand that governments provide housing as economically as they can. my understanding is that it is a “broken system”, and much public housing is being sold. Housing is now being taken over by not-for-profit organisations, but I wonder if it is the best solution.
Perhaps we have all shared at some time during our lives. I have done so on several occasions, some with success, and on two occasions big FAILS. The best time to do it I believe is when one is younger, but long term for seniors I think comes with plenty of challenges. Seniors generally want a “forever home”, but appeasing two people could be problematic. If the property is rented by two or more, who are “equal” in their plan, and they get on, it may not work long term. What if the owners sell the property and the new owners have different plans for their property? So what if there is a dispute between two of the tenants. If one gets sick or dies, and it is not easy to find a suitable replacement tenant? What if the owner neglects the property? What if the physical needs of the tenants change? To me, it would be very unusual to find your “forever home” in a shared situation.
There has been a lot of publicity about Tiny Houses recently and I have been tagged in quite a few stories on Facebook. What do I think about Tiny Houses? I do love them, but I think they are more suited to younger people, or as a very temporary residence. I have been to visit several tiny house manufacturers, from Yeppoon to the Gold Coast, and while I was impressed with many aspects of them, I feel they are not safe for older people.
Steps, the climb up to the bed in several of them do not fit my criteria for senior people. If you got sick and couldn’t get out of bed, how challenging would it be for the ambo’s to get you down? Would the house call doctor go up the stairs to examine you if you couldn’t move? Another issue with tiny houses is the land. If there is a tiny house property, like a caravan park it would work. Would there be community toilet and shower facilities? I’d suggest that there would be issues for senior women if they did not have these in the tiny house. But I know that the cost of taking sewerage to the tiny house, water and electricity is very expensive. I suspect that some local government organisations make it difficult for prospective tiny house owners/renters deliberately because they present a range of issues to them.
Publicity on Tiny Houses
There’s been a lot of publicity about this option on recent days. A few years ago, it was something that I explored. I went to tiny house builders and saw some great places, but there are always issues. The land – where are you going to put your tiny house? I had a property made available to me, though it was unexpectedly repossessed by the bank a year later, the cost of getting sewerage, water and electricity to the tiny house was prohibitive. In fact, the local government organisation deliberately made it difficult as they did not want such houses in their patch. If it is on a property with other tiny houses, there is still the unknown for the future. It is not permanent. Plus, as one gets older, managing the steps and stairs, the bed in the attic and more is problematic and unlikely to be a “forever home”.
I have also lived in a bus (Toyota Coaster) which I found too small, and when the weather is bad, living in such a small space is not a happy place.
A Granny Flat
I question the value of these. If the family involves you in their activities on an almost daily basis, it might work for some folk but unless you get all the support you need, if you are alone, it could be a miserable existence. What if the circumstances of the family change and they need to move. Also if you are unwell it will be a challenge?
My Favourite Forever Home?
Co-housing. I am single. I’d prefer a women-only cohousing property based on the New Ground project in London that I visited in 2018! It is a project underway in Queensland. Watch this space. See New Ground here.
If you want to know more about co-housing and the project that I am working on with a group of other senior solo women, send me a message via the contact form.