Domestic tourism boom adds fuel to housing-unaffordability fire

Article published 26 May 2021

Domestic tourism boom adds fuel to housing-unaffordability fire

RETIREES living in caravan parks and manufactured home estates are feeling the heat as operators move to cash in on gentrification and international border closures with more Australians holidaying at home.

In caravan parks and manufactured home estates, permanent residents typically own a caravan or a relocatable home and pay site fees to rent the land their home sits on. These types of living arrangements were originally modelled as more affordable alternatives to buying or renting in the private property market.

Then gentrification set in.

Manufactured home estates are building more expensive homes and lavish amenities to attract more affluent residents.

Whilst caravan parks are now attempting to attract holidaying families to up-scale resort style facilities, reducing the number of permanent, affordable living placements available for retirees.

Additionally, parks and estates are not classed as permanent housing which allows operators to develop sites on hazard-affected land such as beaches or waterways. Although these locations are ideal holiday destinations, they are more prone to natural disasters like storms and floods. A much more pressing concern for permanent residents than vacationers.

According to an article in The Conversation, large park and estate operators are focusing on building more expensive manufactured homes and upscale amenities on areas that are not hazard-affected to cash in on higher profit margins that come from the deeper pockets of wealthier residents.

Operators are finding that hazard-affected areas are profitable as holiday attractions and that these are increasing in popularity with international borders currently closed. Unfortunately, these hazard-affected areas are also becoming the only places which people can find affordable, permanent living.

This means that retirees looking for affordable parks and estates will most likely have to live in a hazard-affected location, which may come with better views but much greater risk of property damage.

At a time when home ownership rates for people over 65 are set to fall by more than 20 per cent over the next three decades, safe and affordable housing for people on low incomes looks more and more like a pipe dream.

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