Smaller Homes and Households: How Modern Australia Lives

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Smaller Homes and Households: How Modern Australia Lives

The way Australians live has undergone significant changes over the past fifty years. Our family sizes and types have been re-defined, and there are now more single-person households than ever before. While we still love our traditional quarter-acre block with a back yard, housing needs and preferences are continuing to change to reflect the social, economic and demographic landscape of modern Australia.

Single-Person Households

The trend towards single-occupancy living has been gathering pace for many years.  Australia’s most recent Census data (2016 Census) recorded ten million dwellings in the country, with almost a quarter of these being lone person households. In addition, 16% were single-parent households, indicating that at least 40% of our households now have single residents.

The 2016 Census recorded two million people living alone on Census night, with over half (55%) of these being female. This was an increase from one in five households in 1991.

This is now a global trend.  The McGrath Report (2020) reports that approximately one third of households in the EU in 2017 comprised single adults without children. In the UK in 2017, 28% of households contained one person, a big increase from around 17% in 1971.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies predicts that by 2026, single-person households will outnumber traditional nuclear families.

One reason for this is our ageing population and other social changes such as people marrying later or not at all, a higher divorce rate and lower rates of re-marriage after divorce.

The real estate market in Australia now reflects these changes with the highest amount of apartment buildings in history, forming part of the real estate landscape in our capital cities.

In recent years, apartments in Australia have grown in number and height. The number of occupied apartments has increased by 78% in the past twenty-five years, to 1.2 million in 2016.

Low-Rise and High-Rise

Demographic trends in Australia’s population have had a significant impact on the types of homes that are now built in this country.

The 2016 Census recorded that semi-detached, row housing, town houses, flats and apartments make up just over one-quarter of housing in Australia.

From 2014 to 2018 the commencements of super-high-rise apartments (more than 20 storeys) surged by 510%.

High rise buildings (nine to 19 storeys) increased 186%, medium high rise (four to eight) rose 120% and low rise (one to three storeys) fell by 36.8%.

Alternatives to high rises are already growing, with medium density apartments, semis, terraces and townhouses recording the greatest increase in stock over the five years to the 2016 Census. There were surges in Melbourne (up 61%), Perth (49.4%), Adelaide (46.5%), Canberra (36.9%), Brisbane (29.6%) and Sydney (17.9%).

Dwelling approvals for townhouses are at record levels in Australia’s biggest cities. From FY04 to FY18, total dwelling commencements of townhouses surged by 68.6%.

The average floor size of an Australian home has fallen to a 22-year low. Data commissioned by CommSec from the ABS shows the average new home is 186.3 square metres, down 1.6% over the past year and the smallest since 1996. The smaller home size reflects the increased building of apartments which now makes up around half of all new building.

Tiny Homes

Would you live in a tiny home? This alternative living trend has become a bona fide movement which started in the US as an alternative to the ever-increasing size of real estate and to counteract environmental factors with alternative power sources such as solar.

The movement has found devotees in many other countries, including Australia.

According to The Australian Tiny House Association, there are 200 tiny homes across the country. There is growing support for tiny homes to be classed as rateable properties, however, currently these dwellings are treated as ‘homes on wheels’ and must comply with the same regulations that govern caravans and recreational vehicles.

Are you downsizing to an apartment or upsizing to a larger home? Perhaps you’ve renovated your existing home to meet the changing needs of your family. The Home Inspection Hub conducts thorough, high-quality pre-purchase house inspections, new home construction inspections, special purpose inspections and owner builder defect reports – call us today for a free quote on 1300 071 283.