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HOW OFTEN DO PEOPLE MOVE?
According to the 2007-08 Survey of Income and Housing, of people aged 15 years and over, over one-quarter (27%) had been living in their current home for 15 years or more, 30% had been there for 5-14 years, and 43% had moved in the last five years (recent movers).
Some groups of people are more mobile than others. In 2007-08, among recent movers aged 15 years and over, almost half (46%) had moved once, 19% had moved twice, 17% three times, 8% four times, and 11% had moved five times or more.
MOBILITY THROUGH THE LIFE COURSE
Mobility varies across the life course as people's circumstances and opportunities may change. People aged in their 20s and early 30s are more likely than people of other ages to be going through life transitions that may be related to mobility such as transitions from education to employment, out of (and potentially back into) the parental home, and into or out of live in relationships.
People reaching their 30s and moving into older age groups, may find they have housing or family reasons that make it more difficult to move, such as a family, a long-term career or children in education.
Moving at older ages may be due to illness or disability, the death of a spouse, or reflect a desire to downsize after children have moved out.
This article will look at four typical household groups that represent different living arrangements across the life course and the mobility experiences in these life course stages.
PROPORTION OF PEOPLE WHO WERE RECENT MOVERS, BY AGE - 2007-08
Source: ABS 2007-08 Survey of Income and Housing
Young households without children
In 2007-08, people living in young households without children were very mobile with the vast majority having moved at least once (90%), and two-fifths (40%) reported having moved three or more times in the last five years. Of recent movers, 14% were in young households.
Around half (48%) of recent movers living in young households cited housing reasons for their latest move, most commonly that they had purchased their own dwelling (25%) or that they wanted a bigger/better home (12%). One-third (33%) cited family reasons, the most common being getting married or moving in with their partner (20%).
Recent movers aged 15-24 years living in young households were just as likely to have cited family reasons (42%), such as partnering or being independent, as they were to cite housing reasons (37%) for their latest move. In comparison, people aged 25-34 years were more likely to cite housing reasons (53%) than family reasons (30%) for their latest move.
In 2007-08, people in young households were most likely private renters (53%) or owners with a mortgage (39%). The flexible tenures of private renters, relative to other tenure types, would allow for, but not necessarily be the cause of, the high mobility of people in this life course group.
Parents in couple families with dependent children
In 2007–08, 45% of parents in couple families with dependent children were recent movers, accounting for around one-quarter (26%) of all recent movers.
The mobility of parents in couple families with dependent children decreased as the age of the children increased. Of those with dependent children only, those whose eldest child was under five years were more likely to have moved (72%) than those whose eldest child was aged 5–14 years (46%) or 15–24 years (29% moved). The higher mobility rates of those with younger children may be associated with moving into accommodation suitable for a family. The lower mobility rates of those with older dependent children could be related to the more stable/established careers and housing circumstances of these parents, and their desire not to disrupt their children's education.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of parents in couple families with dependent children who were recent movers reported housing reasons for the latest move, with 30% citing a desire for a bigger/better home and 22% saying they moved because they had purchased their own dwelling.
Around three-quarters (76%) of parents in couple families with dependent children were owners with or without a mortgage and 19% were private renters.
MOBILITY IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS(a), BY SELECTED LIFE COURSE GROUPS - 2007-08
(a) People aged 15 years and over.
(b) Includes people who moved in the last five years but didn't know how many times they had moved.
Source: ABS 2007-08 Survey of Income and Housing
Lone parents with dependent children
While representing only 4% of all recent movers, lone parents with dependent children were more likely than parents in couple families with dependent children to have moved in the last five years (59% compared with 45%).
Around one-fifth (21%) of lone parents who had recently moved cited the breakdown of their marriage or relationship as a reason for their move.
The relatively high mobility rates of lone parents with dependent children compared with parents in couple families with dependent children is also associated with the higher likelihood of such lone parents being private renters (42%) compared with parents in couple families with dependent children (19%) in 2007-08.
Older households without children
In 2007-08, people in older households without children had lower rates of housing mobility than people in younger life course stages. Only 17% of people in older households were recent movers, and only 5% of all recent movers were from older households.
People living in older households without children were mostly owners without a mortgage (80%), while 12% were renting.
For people in older age groups, moving house is often associated with 'empty nesters' downsizing, making a 'sea/tree change' or moving into more suitable accommodation for health or age reasons. Of people in older households who had moved in the last five years, almost a quarter (23%) cited wanting a smaller home or to downsize as a reason for their latest move. Similar proportions reported family reasons (22%), lifestyle change (20%) and/or other reasons (23% - mostly health or neighbourhood reasons).
REASONS FOR LATEST MOVE(a), BY SELECTED LIFE COURSE GROUP - 2007-08
** estimate has a relative standard error of greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use
(a) All reasons for latest move for people aged 15 years and over who had moved in the last five years.
(b) Not all housing or family reasons are displayed in the table, but are included in totals.
(c) 'Other' comprises neighbourhood reasons, health reasons, accessibility reasons and other reasons.
(d) Proportions may add up to more than 100% as respondents could provide more than one reason for their last move.
Source: ABS 2007-08 Survey of Income and Housing
UNLIKELY TO MOVE, BUT WANT TO
There are a number of people who report that they would like to move but who also reported that they were unlikely to do so.
In 2007-08, 1.2 million people aged 15 years and over (7%) wanted to move in the next 12 months but indicated that they were unlikely to do so.
People who were most likely to report wanting to move but being unlikely to do so included lone parents with dependent children (16%), people renting public housing (13%), non-dependent children (11%) and parents in couple families with dependent children only where their eldest child was under 15 years (11%).
Having a desire to move in the next 12 months, but being unlikely to do so, was more common among the most disadvantaged Socio-Economic Index For Areas (SEIFA) quintile (10%), than the least disadvantaged quintile (6%). (Endnote 2)
Barriers to moving
In 2007-08, among people who wanted to move in the next 12 months, but were unlikely to do so, 72% indicated that they could not afford to buy a new dwelling, or afford the costs associated with moving, while 14% said that moving was too much effort.
Nationally, around two in five (43%) people aged 15 years and over were recent movers in 2007-08. However, some groups were more mobile, including people in young households without children (90%), parents in couple families with dependent children only where their eldest child was under five years (72%) and lone parents with dependent children (59%).
People in young households without children are more likely than people in other selected life course groups to cite forming relationships as the reason for making a move. Lone parents with dependent children are more likely than others to cite relationship breakdown. People in older households are more likely than others to cite lifestyle change. However, across each of the life course groups, housing reasons, such as a desire for a bigger or better home, or a recent dwelling purchase, were generally the most common reasons for moving.
The financial costs of moving, or the costs of purchasing a new home can influence the mobility of some. For the small proportion of people who had a desire to move in the next 12 months, but considered it unlikely to happen, financial reasons were the most commonly reported barrier.
1. Wilkins, R., Warren, D. and Hahn, M., 2009, 'How often do people move house?' in Families, Incomes and Jobs, Volume 4: A Statistical Report on Waves 1 to 6 of the HILDA Survey, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, pp. 140-144. <www.melbourneinstitute.com>
2. Based on the 2006 SEIFA Index of relative socio-economic disadvantage at the Collection District level.
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