Since when, in Australia is living at home a luxury available to just a few?
By home, we mean a place you call your home. For some of us, it’s a town home, a townhouse or an apartment. For others, it’s a house.
Home is a place you call ‘my place’. It’s a place where you accommodate your life, live out your dreams, raise your family.
There is no place like home!
According to recent research by Grattan Institute, the chance of owning a home for 25-35 year olds has dropped to just 22%. This sure is a wakeup call to any average Australian.
Renting a place is something most of us have done at some stage of our life. And while some of us prefer to rent in the long term, and others will have no choice as housing becomes more unaffordable, for many, renting is a temporary option until they find a place they can call home i.e. the place to buy and make their own.
It may take months or years to finally find the place that suits. There are many factors to consider: the type of home, location, proximity to family, work, schools, transport and, of course, price. Everyone has different needs, circumstances, lifestyles and budgets. Ticking all the boxes is practically impossible.
You may have to go for something that fits within the budget, but not in the location you wanted. Or you may go for something in a convenient location for you, but not exactly the property you imagined.
It is understandable that there is always something to sacrifice, but what’s frustrating is when you are faced with a situation of ‘no choice’. For example, if your budget is X, you have to go there, and not here – your criteria is cut down to just the price; convenience, needs and lifestyle fall off the list.
This problem is common and one of the major contributors to this problem is the lack of housing options.
We don’t belong in that box!
“[Living in houses is] more a pressure we feel because our friends all live in houses,” says Anabel Pandiella in the article ‘Apartment living is now a fact of Australian life’ by Freya Petersen.
And while families in Australia are placed in ‘the box’ of house living i.e. the ‘Great Australian Dream box’, the fact is many don’t!
According to ABS 2016 census data, families with children now comprise a quarter of Australia’s total apartment population, with the number increasing by 56 per cent between 2011 and 2016.
Then, there are townhouses, for those who don’t want to completely downsize to an apartment, or not just yet, but don’t want the maintenance of a house. Or for those who would like to be in a convenient location, in close proximity to transport options, work, entertainment, but are looking for a more suitable price tag.
“Townhouses have been around for a long time, with demand picking up more recently and this will only get stronger…Where is all this demand coming from? I can break it into two separate demographics; young families and retirees, but only in the right location..” – Brett Warren. ‘Why townhouses are the investment of the future and how to find the right one.’
The benefits of townhouses are many. They offer that middle ground and are suitable for downsizers and families alike.
According to BIS Oxford Economics, the “rapid growth in the 20-to-34-year-old age bracket over the past 15 years will see Generation Y, or millennials, shape the residential property market over the next decade.”
“As Generation Y move into their late 30s and 40s and are more likely to be living in family households with children, they will need to balance convenience and affordability with home ownership and the separate dwellings typically sought after in that life stage,” notes Stephanie Chalmers in her ABC News article: Shoebox apartments won’t meet family-friendly housing demand as millennials come of age.
“For people who would like to remain in the inner or middle suburbs, that’s going to be financially out of reach, so they’ll be looking for something that offers more amenity but will be at a more affordable price…Probably the best type of dwelling that meets that compromise is a townhouse.” – Angie Zigomanis from BIS Oxford Economics, as quoted in Chalmers’ article above.
According to the BIS data cited above, the apartment and townhouse living among 35-49 year olds is on the rise across all Australian major cities and increase in demand for medium-density housing including larger apartments and townhouses is expected.
Accommodating the future.
People no longer all tie themselves to the idea of a yard. Socialising with friends instead of mowing the lawn on the weekend; Or holidaying overseas with children instead of being burdened by the big mortgage, are very common choices among the new generation.
Great for those who choose and can afford it all: the gardener’s fees, the mortgage and the travel. But they are, after all, a minority.
The changing values (not that new!).
We now live in the times where there is a lot more choice and freedom. Travel is more accessible, separation (and divorce) is more acceptable and women’s participation in the workforce keeps rising.
Accommodating lifestyle and convenience, as well as different life situations is something we must do.
Hugh Mackay, in his paper “Three Generations: The Changing Values and Political Outlook of Australians”, noted that for ‘The Rising Generation’ (those born in the 1970s!) the buzzword is ‘options.’
“Because they have grown up in a period of rapid social, cultural, economic and technological change, they are not conscious of the fact that it is a period of change at all: constant change is the air they breathe; this is simply the way the world is,” states Mackay.
And this is something that was talked about 20 years ago! Fast forward 20 years and some of us still see our city as “a village.”
“Brisbane is no longer a “big country town”, says the property expert Michael Yardney. “In fact, it’s a veritable hotbed of cultural and creative offerings, festivals and events…”
And many young professionals, families and even retirees want to be ‘in the middle of it all!’
Here is some interesting data from the 2016 Census:
In 2016, almost one household in four was a lone person household. This increased from one in five households in 1991. Of the 2 million people living alone on Census night, over half (55%) were female.
The proportion of couple families without children and single parent families has increased since 1991. In 1991 32% of Australian families were couple families without children, increasing to 38% in 2016.
Similarly, single parent families have increased from 13% of families in 1991 to 16% in 2016. Over 900,000 single parent families were counted in 2016 and over 80% of single parents were female.
“Whilst family households are expected to see the largest increase over the next 10 years, the Australian Bureau of statistics projects that lone person households will have the highest growth rate leading into 2028, averaging a 2.4% increase per annum.”
In one of our recent blogs we spoke about how decreasing affordability of housing and increasing rents, as well as lower household income potential of single mothers, are definitely some of the major contributors to increased housing stress and homelessness among women. But similarly, this applies to any single parent and any single income household.
Looking at the census data, how can we possibly ban smaller and more affordable housing forms such as townhouses from the majority of Brisbane suburbs? Urban planning experts see it as not only “going backwards” but making housing the biggest contributor to inequality in Australia over the last 12 years!
Cutting out housing choices directly impacts housing affordability making it even more difficult than ever to accommodate different lifestyles and life situations, leaving the privilege of having a place you can call home (whether a house, an apartment or a town house) a luxury only the ‘fortunate’ can afford!
The choice to live ‘at home’ is ours! So let us have it!
Accommodating the constantly changing generations needs and demographics, the growing populations and the future, requires offering many different options.
Australia is the country that prides itself for it’s cultural diversity, freedom and it’s long withstanding fight for equality among men and women of different backgrounds. With housing already being the biggest contributor to inequality in Australia, in terms of income and wealth, we are taking another step back with the recently proposed Major Amendment H to Brisbane City Plan 2014. With our housing policies, we are undoing everything we’ve been doing in terms of our fight for diversity, freedom, choice and equality.
Since when is living at home a luxury available to just a few?
To make a submission to object the Major Amendment H to Brisbane City Plan 2014 and save housing choices for our city follow these simple steps.