How do cars affect our property markets?


Much is written about population growth and its positive impact on most things economic.

But there is also sting in that tale.

Despite the intelligentsia telling us the opposite, the number of vehicles per capita, is on the rise in Australia.  It is currently 776 vehicles per 1,000 bodies.

It was 723 a decade ago and just 644 in 1998.

city family urban suburb

Gentrification, urbanisation, uberisation and all those other trendy urban movements haven’t yet had an impact on our car use and especially the number of cars on our streets.

There are just over 19 million registered vehicles in Australia, which is up 25% on ten years ago. 

Pity our road and parking capacity hasn’t increased anything like that volume over the same time frame.

It is no surprise that traffic congestion has become much worse and many of our streets are now parking lots.

Registered vehicles
Australia, states + territories

State/Territory2018 (no)Decade change % change

Tasmania, in particular, is feeling the change with 921 vehicles per 1,000 people and a 17% increase in this statistic over the past ten years.  Cars

Queensland, South and Western Australia are also feeling the heat.

Interesting Victoria – read Melbourne – has seen little change in the ratio of vehicles per population.

Yes, their recent high rate of population growth has seen their streets get more crowded, but it is not as bad as it might have been.

Registered vehicles per 1,000 population

Australia, states + territories

State/TerritoryVehicles/1,000Decade change % change

There are lots of lessons here including Melbourne’s somewhat more decentralised workforce; medium density infill housing in Melbourne’s middle and outer suburbs; the city’s range of effective public transport options and a strong local culture of public transport use.

It isn’t prefect but better than what is (or more to the point, isn’t) happening in our other urban centres.

So, when you hear all the positives about population growth, remember 1,000 additional people means 776 more cars, Australia-wide, and closer to 817 more cars in Queensland.

End note

Maybe driverless cars will reverse this trend.  

GoGet and other car sharing schemes might help too.

But I am not that convinced.

For mine the key is to get people working closer to where they live and to provide housing closer to where they work.  Yet most councils and state governments have planning schemes and policies that do the opposite.

Brisbane City Council, sadly, has recently joined this long queue.

Our chart and both tables are sourced from ABS Publication 9309.0 – Motor Vehicle Census, Australia. 


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Michael is director of independent property advisory Matusik Property Insights. He is independent, perceptive and to the point; has helped over 550 new residential developments come to fruition and writes his insightful Matusik Missive

'How do cars affect our property markets?' have 1 comment

    Avatar for Michael Matusik

    October 16, 2018 NationalTrucks

    Admiring the commitment you put into your blog and detailed information you offer. Cars have become a huge part of many lives since their creation and rapid growth in popularity in the 20th century. While they offer the clear advantage of convenience, they come with some negative effects, as well. It’s great you’ve brought this issue to limelight.


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