Living below the breadline: Pensioners crippled by two major costs of living 148



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The cost of renting a home is placing more pensioners at risk of poverty than ever before, according to a report released today about the cost of living for older people and it is only likely to get worse.

The QCOSS Cost of Living Report is released today, and shows that the cost of housing in Queensland is placing extraordinary pressure on pension recipients with people are forced to undermine their quality of life to live in or near the capital city of Brisbane.   The report takes a look at four different “scenarios” for older Australian (or Queensland) pensioners, drawing out their budgets to make the best of their lives using public transport, and the data shows that a couple living near the city will be living below an adequate standard of living, a horrifying situation in a first world country.

It’s a problem many over 60s grapple with every day, and with 491,000 pensioners in Queensland, expected to grow to 1.3 million by 2050, and the report is calling for significant action in bringing appropriate accommodations to the market, suitable for pensioners.  No doubt other Australian states need to do the same.

The report’s story of four different age pensioners is underpinned by their budget breakdowns, and points out that age pensioners living as couples in Brisbane who rent in the private rental market are not able to meet the costs associated with a basic standard of living.   It’s frightful statistic for Australia’s third largest capital city, and the problem is likely easily extrapolated to other cities in Australia.  But who is listening?

QCOSS report

In particular, the research shows:

  • The requirement to meet ongoing rental costs is the single biggest financial burden for age pensioners who do not own their own home.
  • Single and couple households renting in the private market are likely to be in housing stress, paying more than 30 per cent of their gross income on housing costs.
  •  Age pensioners living as couples in Brisbane who rent in the private rental market are not able to meet the costs associated with a basic standard of living.
  • Age pensioners living as couples in Brisbane will have to make compromises about their housing, transport or other living expenses, which may undermine their quality of life because there is a lack of affordable and appropriate accommodation available.

“It is likely that the number of people in this situation will increase, placing additional pressure on social services and other supports.”


Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I have no doubt Pensioners every where are struggling, because I am, Oh I pay the bills and I am in private rental and I have enough for food but the incidentals kill me, things like fuel for the car or mower, my medication, getting my hair cut, or if anything goes wrong like the car need a tyre and so many other things that are a worry and I sometimes can’t afford. Pensioners exist quietly, but we don’t live to any great extent, we can’t afford too

    1 REPLY
    • Perhaps thats the answer? Not to exist quietly. We have a voice why not use it. And this applies to all political parties. We are in need of a national protest to government that we are fed up with the ‘burden’ title, the prosperity of this country came on the backs of decades of work by the now pensioners of this country. I am fed up with the constant threats of cuts to health and payments. Its time

  2. I pay a high rent and get the top amount of rent assistance. I can buy groceries and I don’t go far as the petrol prices in Tassie are disgusting
    I live in fear of something going wrong with the car and also struggle with rego etc. I am assuming I am not as bad as some as our only power company give pensioners a discount, but the rents are terrible. Even companies like Centenary with their affordable housing is getting high. And if you are a single pensioner you pay as much as a couple living in affordable housing. I think this is wrong.

    3 REPLY
    • Yes I pay a very high rent and if I had someone else with an income I would only pay half, doesn’t seem right does it.

    • It also makes it difficult if you are a single woman in her own home paying rates, electricity, landline and insurances as couples still pay a similar amount in rates but there are two incomes coming in. If you need to keep your house well maintained too that really eats into any savings.

  3. And this is why I keep working and dread the day I can’t anymore!

    2 REPLY
    • I agree with you Sue, however there’re are many of us who are no longer able to work due to health problems, in fact I was forced to retire 3 years early and had to apply for disability pension because of it, I live alone and I think that our Politicians forget that a SINGLE PENSIONER has to pay exactly the same as a couple for our bills.

    • Totally unfair, especially when our generation has worked most of our lives. I know someone who is 35 and has never worked but always ended up with some kind of “pension” !

  4. if you have no debt you are ok

    3 REPLY
    • that depends on what you call ok and your situation. We don’t all live under the same circumstances.

    • we all need cars to get to somewhere the public transport system dosnt work for many rent assistance is only a patch up temp thing we need govt self containment facilities for single pensioners that are percentaged to the fn pension

    • Not necessarily – we have no debt, but when major things go wrong – hot water service dying, car needing repair of thousands of dollars, life gets tough!

  5. This is what makes me so furious, it is hard enough to live now, how will we all survive with less?

  6. It is bad and they’re calling for pensioners to sell their homes and spend that money, how stupid is that where will they live there isn’t enough suitable rental accommodation now, we are in our 60’s I’m retired not by choice my hubby still works and will have while he is able we have lived in 4 different houses in 6 years am so sick of moving.

    3 REPLY
    • The idea is to sell the 3 or 4 bedroom home and downsize to a unit.

      3 REPLY
      • No thank you. I own my home , I downsized recently to a 3 bed detached home.I am retired, age 73, and do not want to live in a block of units. I like my space and privacy. The money I live on is from the Age Pension that I paid in for when I did work and my savings, but according to a lot of people I am not entitled to an Age Pension. Why should I have to live in a rabbit hutch sized apartment.?

      • Do not downsize to a unit. The Body Corporate increases, sometimes a lot, sinking funds and the list goes on.

        1 REPLY
        • We did just that. Downsized from our two storey 5 bedroom in suberbia to fringe CBD apartment living to depend on public transport.But the Body Corp is now ‘killing’ us. Don’t do it.

      • I have had my house on the market twice in order to downsize but no one wants to pay what it is worth and you need to be able to find somewhere affordable to live. I think I should just stay here.

    • That’s better than having to rent but you can pay as much for a unit as the house is worth so where would the benifit be.

    • Moving isn’t cheap either, connections, reconnections of all sorts and the necessary problems with letting people know.. I feel for you

  7. Our Politicians will never understand the concept that people are going without so they can pay their bills, when you have IDIOTIC POLITICIANS who make statements that POOR PEOPLE DON’T DRIVE CARS, it also shows the lack of empathy among them.

    1 REPLY
    • Like all pensioners I struggle too. $300 per week rent, rebate from government $27 per week, I have no debts, but I think the only way any politcian is going to listen is if we ALL make a stand at election time, neither party could afford to lose all the pensioner votes.

  8. I’ve sold my car, well a bomb really, cos’ I couldn’t afford to run it, now rely on public transport if I want to go anywhere… not that I can afford to except to the shops, a looked forward to outing… lol

  9. this has been happening in New Zealand since the national party to up office and like Australia they think of nothing except taking away from the average person.

  10. What polies forget we have worked hard no super in my day and expected to live on the poverty line.. It costs the same for one pensioner to live in their own home as it does for two and yet they chop the pension in half.

    6 REPLY
    • Laurel, I dont think it is that the pollies forget, I think its more that they dont actually care !! We need to find a party who does !

    • I hate to disappoint you but you won’t find another party that suits everyone as we all have different ideas and expectations. I am a realist .

    • bUT ,do you know what Sue,people have had a gutful of being treated badly,through no fault of their own….at present I think anyone would be a lot fairer than current Government!!!!So much shaming goes on by so many people who have not got a clue,and are all about themselves!!!Fairness is a word this government is incapable of understanding!!!!

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