Renting means saving more for retirement, experts say

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With affordability being a huge issue in home ownership, many people opt to just rent their homes instead of buy one. The latest data from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, one-third of all private renters were long-term in 2013, up from only a quarter a decade ago. But according to financial experts, ‘Generation Rent’ is facing a less secure future compared to their property-owning peers, unless they get smarter and save harder for their retirement.

According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, a single person would need an estimated $545,000 to afford a comfortable retirement by age 65. A couple needs around $645,000. Though it is possible for renters to attain these figures, it is also challenging. Generation Rent could retire with an aged pension and superannuation system not set up for renters.

“A mortgage is the perfect forced savings vehicle. You can’t go out and drink your repayment, so a renter would have to be as focused and unwavering in their investment,” said finance commentator and educator Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon.

Terry Burke, a housing professor from Swinburne University, agrees. “Income support systems are premised on outright ownership and therefore, Australian pensions tend to be much lower than equivalent countries,” he said. “So if you are still a renter, by the time you retire, you can be in real financial stress to cover the rent.”

But Ben Kingsley, chief executive of Empower Wealth, warns that real estate is not a guaranteed investment. In fact, he advocates ‘rentvesting’—a strategy wherein buyers buy an investment property at a lower price point out of the city and rent in the area where they want to live.

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