Why more Australians are moving into apartments
Australian society is changing. Gone are the days when ‘the great Australian dream’ meant a quarter acre block in the suburbs, with a Hills Hoist out the back and room for the kids to play cricket.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that dream — it’s just not for everyone.
According to Bernard Salt — partner at KPMG, professor at Curtin Business School and the country’s pre-eminent demographer — the change in attitude in Australia is so great that it’s shaping the residential property market. Australians now want apartments.
‘Why would you live in the sparse, lifeless and frankly naff suburbs when you could choose to live amid the vibrancy and the opportunity of all the inner city has to offer?’ Salt wrote in The Australian in 2015.
‘The apartment delivers connectivity to the State’s best jobs, best shopping, best cultural and sporting facilities, and best parks and gardens’.
The great Australian dream has changed
Salt argues that just as the big backyard in the suburbs was the lifestyle choice of the post-war period, apartments are the lifestyle choice for the new century.
‘In (the suburban) model, dad toddles off to work, mum stays at home to mind the house and garden, and the kids attend local schools. Sweet suburban bliss’, he said.
‘The driving force that shaped Australian suburbia from the 50’s to the 80’s was the family and prevailing ideas about how a household should operate. Almost half a century later, it seems everything has changed’.
Salt says the ‘narrative of suburban life’ has changed. These days, mum and dad probably both work, and probably in a city office rather than a factory out in the suburbs. Families are smaller, with perhaps one or two kids rather than four or five. People’s lives are focused around the city and its institutions and, given people are inclined to want to live close to where they work, people are gravitating towards more urban than suburban living environments.
Demand for apartments driving property market
That change in values and behaviours is shaping the property market, as developers move to build the kinds of homes people want to live in. All major Australian cities have seen thousands of trendy inner-city apartments built over the last 10 or 20 years. It’s lead some people to question whether we’re building too many apartments, but Salt says no.
‘The apartment boom isn’t a matter of “bubble or no bubble” — it is a structural, behavioural shift by the nation’, he says.
‘It’s not for everyone, but it is for more people today than it was yesterday, and it will be for even more people in future’.
It is, in short, a trend that is expected to continue. Which suggests an inner-city apartment is a great investment opportunity, whether you’re looking to enjoy the lifestyle yourself or planning to rent it out.