Moving House

Moving House?  Nearly half of older New Zealanders plan to move as they age.

house_moving_malaysia

Future housing choices.

In the ICC study we asked people what housing they would anticipate and prefer as they grew older.  Previous interviews with New Zealanders aged 67 to 93 have shown that there are three ways of understanding housing experiences and moving decisions.  First, there are very practical issues around the environment and things like the quality of the present house and amenities in the neighbourhood. Second, many housing decisions are made around relationships with the environment and people in the area. Family and friends are a very important factor in housing choices. Third, there is the importance of time. People form strong relationships with the place where they live and many people prefer to stay where they have always lived.

The ICC results

So, how many New Zealanders in the ICC study aged 62 to 76 see themselves making these different choices? Nearly half (49%) said they could see themselves moving to a “new place of residence” as they age.  However, many (45%) also wished to stay in the same area by “moving to a smaller home in the same geographical location”.

The most common reason for anticipating moving was a move to a smaller home (67%) which needs less work or maintenance.  Another reason endorsed by 36% was downsizing to release money to live on.

A smaller but substantial proportion (30%) wished to change location, with 15% wanting to move to a warmer climate, 15% to move closer to health and support services, 21% moving to be closer to family or whānau, and 1% to family or whānau lands.

Retirement Villages

Over a quarter (27%) said they had considered moving to a retirement village in the future. Of these, the most common reasons were declining health (71%) and so family or whānau “didn’t have to take on the responsibility of looking after you” (57%).

Another common reason was wanting less stress in managing the home (48%) and more assistance with chores (46%).  Facilities, such as improved security (47%), inbuilt facilities (42%), and “convenient location to facilities” (44%) were also rated highly as reasons to move to retirement villages.

Social aspects were also rated highly with 36% endorsing “greater opportunities for keeping active”, 32% wanting to be around people the same age and 28% expecting greater social life.

Conversely, money was the most important thing discouraging moving to a retirement home or village as many people rated expense (58%) and nothing to bequeath family or whānau (37%) as reasons for not moving.  A lack of privacy (55%) and “lack of respect for older people in some institutions” (44%) were the other most common reasons that discouraged moving to a retirement village in the future.

A small proportion of the ICC sample (14%) also indicated that they may need to move to an “assisted living facility” like a rest or nursing home.

Housing Preferences According to Age

It seems likely that these housing choices will change as we get older.  There were some differences in the ages of those wanting to move.  First, moving to a smaller house and changing location was a less likely reason for those who were older (possibly because they have already moved into a smaller house).  Second, planning to move because of a health issue, to be closer to health services, or to a retirement home/village was also more likely among those were older.

Those factors that were most likely to discourage people from moving into a retirement village or complex were loss of independence, privacy, space and a lack of respect.  These were generally endorsed, but were less likely to be endorsed by those over the age of 74.

Moving away from friends, family, the family home, or wanting to leave something to bequeath their family were reasons discouraging moving to a retirement village for those of all ages.  Losing contact with neighbours in contrast was more likely to be an important reason with increasing age, as did having to change to a new doctor.

Expense was one of the most important concerns and although there was a slight ‘dip’ in importance between ages 65 & 69 (when most people were retiring), this remained important for all age groups. Rather obviously the statement that retirement villages are “… just for older people” became less important with older age.

Questions raised by these findings

Current government policy is aimed at supporting people to stay in their own home. For those who choose to stay in their existing home, there is as much support as possible provided to enable people to do this even if they become disabled.  Is this policy working for those who choose to stay in difficult living conditions or in rural areas?

Since the ICC study shows that 49% of older New Zealanders would like to move, this also provides an impetus for considering what sort of housing opportunities may need to be provided in the future to enable people to age well.  What sort of housing options could be focussed upon?  For example, is the current Village model ideal for the older person who wishes to move to a smaller more supported home?

Advertisements