What’s a hipster suburb?

In a recent Real Estate Talk show, we ask, “what is a “hipster?”

According to Bernard Salt, demographer and partner at KPMG, hipsters are market leaders.

I talk to Bernard today in the show and find out the ‘hipster like’ areas around Australia.


Bernard Salt

Kevin:  According to Bernard Salt, demographer and partner at KPMG, hipsters are market leaders, a cross-section whose employment prospects and ideas will push capital city fortunes.

Bernard joins me now. Hi, Bernard. Thanks for your time.

Bernard:  My pleasure.

Kevin:  Bernard, how do you define a hipster in the property investment sense?

Bernard:  I suppose hipster refers technically to a tribe of people who live that inner-city lifestyle. They tend to dress in black.

The men have beards. They hang out in cafés. A hipster might be a barista.

They live that inner-city lifestyle where they might work in the creative arts or the knowledge industry. They’re anything but suburban.

I think that’s the point about a hipster. They’re anti-suburbanists. That’s probably a better way to describe them.

Kevin:  Am I right or wrong in saying that the hipster could be the modern-day version of a hippie?

Bernard:  A hippie was quite a powerful tribe. I’m not sure whether the hippy focused in the inner city.

I think you could actually find hippies anywhere in Australia. In fact, they embraced regional Australia, places like Nimbin and Byron Bay.

Whereas I don’t think you’d find hipsters in Nimbin. They die of lack of oxygen if they are any more than five kilometers from the CBD city center.

They need to be near cafés, bars, and restaurants, otherwise the poor creatures just can’t survive at all.

Kevin:  Bernard, can you tell me what turns a hipster on?

Bernard:  My logic is that what we’re seeing over the last five or six years is the rise of what I’d call the knowledge worker.

These are people with tertiary education degrees.

If you look at the type of sectors in the economy that are expanding, that are recruiting people, and providing prospects and a better capacity to take out a higher mortgage, then it’s the knowledge workers – in health, in education, in professional services, in IT, as an example. Government administration is another.

bike hipster

All of those jobs tend to be located in the CBD or in the inner suburb, and as a consequence, knowledge workers tend to organize their lives in and around the CBD.

I would define the hipster as a version of a tribe within the knowledge worker. As knowledge industries rise in the CBD and inner suburbs, the demand for knowledge workers and, therefore, hipsters will rise, as well.

Kevin:  You hinted there in the earlier part of our discussion that they don’t like the lack of oxygen once they get out of the city area. Are there other things that turn hipsters off?

Bernard:  You would never find a hipster out in the wheatbelt of New South Wales, Victoria, or wherever. They don’t do country towns, I don’t think.
You might find a couple in Byron Bay if it’s a fashionable sea change destination. They might spend a few months there or whatever, but they are very urban.

In fact, the unique thing about the hipster is that I think they are global. If you went to New York, go to a place called Williamsburg in Brooklyn, that is a hipster hot spot.

If you go to London, have a look at Shoreditch in the East End, that is a hipster hot spot.

You can tell if there are hipsters around. Go to your nearest café, and if there are smashed avocados on the menu, then you know you’re pretty close to where the hipsters live.

Bernard:  Oh, very much. Social media, new technology, tend not to have kids.

Kevin:  I get the impression that they like being connected. Has this got something to do with social media? Are they good at social media?

You can be groovy and all hipsterish with young kids, but the sad fact is that as soon as you have teenagers, from the age of 12 or 13, then you can’t be a hipster anymore. I’m sorry, but you morph into being a daggy dad the minute you have a 12-year-old.

Kevin:  Not even if you wear the right clothes and grow a beard?

Bernard:  You could wear the right clothes, you can grow a beard, you can do all those things.

You can think you’re being really hipsterish, but look, at the end of the day, you’re just a daggy dad.

I think that the hipster dies around mid-forties.

By your mid-forties, you tend to have young teenagers, and the minute you have young teenagers, you cannot, therefore, by definition be cool. You’ve got to be daggy. Therefore, the hipster dies mid-forties.

Kevin:  Are there any signs, Bernard, that developers are taking these hipsters seriously?

They would say young corporates more likely, or knowledge workers.Bernard:  I certainly do think that they are, very much so. I don’t think that developers would use that term.

location street phone

If you look at many of the apartment buildings that are going up in, say, Surry Hills in Sydney, in Docklands, or St Kilda Road in Melbourne, New Farm and West End particularly, in Brisbane, maybe Leederville in Perth, young corporates geared around this cosmopolitan New Yorkesque, Manhattanesque-type lifestyle.

I think that the marketing of that product is very much geared towards a hipster aspirational lifestyle.

Kevin: There you go. The article is called “Hey man, do you dig it?”

Bernard:  That’s not my title by the way.

Kevin:  Oh, isn’t it? I was going to ask you if that was yours.

Bernard:  No.

Kevin:  I’d say Kieran Clair has come up with that one. That’s a typical Kieran Clair that one.

Bernard:  Exactly. It’s the hipster change. Forget the sea change and three change. It’s the hipster change. That’s what that is.

Kevin:  Do they ride bikes, by the way, these hipsters?

Bernard:  They do. In fact, they ride fixed-wheel bikes, apparently.

But yes, very much, very green, very tribal, very social media.

They drink coffee. Smashed avocados, of course, all the latest foods.

In fact, anything organic is very important. Quinoa salads. They know how to pronounce quinoa. They probably even know how to spell quinoa.

Kevin:  I don’t even know what quinoa is actually.

Bernard:  Well, there you go. Kevin, you are clearly not a hipster.
Kevin:  For sure. It’s great talking to you, Bernard.

Bernard Salt has been my guest. Thank you very much for your time.

Bernard:  My pleasure.

Listen to the full show at RealEstateTalk.com.au and while you’re there subscribe and receive our weekly podcast (or the transcripts) where I interview Australia’s leading property experts. 

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Australia's leading independent property commentator, brings together leading authorities on the property market. Each week at Real Estate Talk we take a fresh look at the property market so you get all the facts to help you make the right choice.
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