Hipsters are setting a property agenda that’s signalling great investment opportunities for those with a groovy bend.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a cultural rock, you’ll have noticed the rise of the hipster.
They’re a movement categorised by shunning the mainstream and embracing the fringe.
They’re at the cutting edge of retro-cool and enjoy talking a risk – try setting up a civet-coffee café in an industrial estate and see how long you last?
The flipside is the irony.
Never identify a hipster as a hipster – it’s very unhipster.
They shun categorisation and if they hit upon a successful formula that sees everyday mortals adopt their vision, hipster will fee from it as fast as their multicoloured Converse sneakers will carry them.
While it’s really, really amusing to poke fun at this subset, they are driving popular culture and deserve to be noticed.
Find a location that’s firming as a hipster hotspot and you’re well ahead of the curve for a great investment prospect.
Buy in low and wait for the cool to come – it’s gentrification at its purest.
Bernard Salt, demographer and partner at KPMG, says hipsters are market leaders and certainly a cross-section whose employment prospects and ideas will push capital city fortunes.
“I think it actually refers to [people] who see themselves as not really being connected into traditional Australian values … They see themselves as being very connected, very global, very digitally connected, creative, aware, politically active, environmentally active and at the leading edge of technology and progressive thinking.”
He says there are loose qualifying guidelines for hipsterism, but one rule is hard and fast.
“By definition you can’t be a dad of a teenager and a hipster… you can’t! You can wear whatever groovy clothes you want, you are not a hipster.”
Salt says they’re mostly urban dwellers whose adventures to the fringes stall around eight kilometres from the city centre.
“It must be something in the atmosphere because when they go beyond seven or eight kilometres from CBD, they start to suffocate,” he laughs.
“The oxygen is too thin, so if they’re out in Parramatta or at Penrith, they just curl up and die.”
Units in suburbs that are within a single-gear bike ride of the CBD appeal most, although hipster desires may evolve once they start to breed.
“Then they have children and they’re determined to stay in the city, but then comes the great cultural clash – do they remain in the city or do they respond to the lure of the suburbs? That’s the great existential crises that hipsters go through,” Salt says.
“I think we’ll see an increasing proportion of hipsters as buyers going to hipsterism at the age of 22 or 23, and you might be all hip and groovy and renting throughout your 20s, but at some point, you’re going to want to buy a property, and you’ll want a property that fits with your values and your lifestyle and your tribe. So, I think we’d see more first homes sold to hipsters in their early 30s going forward.”
Finding out about hipster locations before anyone else is both is both exciting and potentially profitable.
Salt has his own tongue-in-cheek take on the beacons of a hipster market, but he’s not far off the mark.
“I’m sure if you’re at a café and there are smashed avocados on the menu, then follow the line of smashed avocado’s.”
It’s certainly true they lead with a coffee culture, but while location is one thing, nailing down an appealing property is another.
At this stage, the vast majority are young renters looking to set up in areas beyond their current financial reach.
If you want the right bait to hook a hipster, keep it simple, Salt says.
“They do like black, they do like minimalism and they like quirky Danish design… It’s got to be genuine, authentic, nose-bleedingly expensive Danish design rather than practical, pragmatic, minimalist Ikea.
“Polished concrete is very popular, calacatta marble, that sort of white with swirly black veins throughout – I think that’s more of a corporate 30-something hipster rather than a 25-year-old.
“But again, hard surfaces and natural products.”
Salt’s take on hipsters is a mild ribbing in good nature, but his points are well made.
Hipsters are a driving force that’s well worth watching.
They’re an exciting, creative, smart community who will give most things a go.
Just the sort of population you want in new markets.
We’ve canvassed big city experts from around Australia to find out which hipsterific hotspots are already cooking, and which are set to simmer.
SYDNEY Hipster Spots
- Surry Hills
- Forrest Lodge
George Raptis of Metropole Property Strategists says the evolution of cool Newtown has been an obvious case of ‘hipsterfication’.
“If I had taken you to Newtown 30 years ago, the demographics were quite simple. It was very blue collar, working class and high crime rate. In the main CBD, [around] King Street, you’d see a number of shops that were continuously vacant.
“It had that stigma attached to it, but what we’ve seen happen is that suburb has changed completely.
The old demographic moved out and the new demographic moved in.”
He says property has become quite expensive in Newtown and there’ve been flow-on benefits for addresses nearby.
“People that wanted to be there have said, ‘Look, that’s too much for me to afford.
I’ve got to buy or rent, but I’ll look at little suburbs that piggyback onto that, which are still convenient to these particular spots, that we can still access the places where we like to go, and have the green tea and vegan sandwiches.”
Raptis says similar urbane suburbs include Surry Hills and Darlinghurst.
If you’re looking for areas with gentrification potential, he says look for commercial and industrial conversions.
“Places like Alexandria, Beaconsfield, possibly Forrest Lodge, which is close to Glebe, these sorts of locations. These areas were, once upon a time, working class with a lower socio-economic demographic, but predominantly scattered by commercial and industrial properties. These uses have subsequently moved out.
“The [hipsters] that can afford it like renting these old, period properties, these terraced places. They like that style of living. They don’t need cars to get around. They’re used to public transport or push bikes and scooters.”
Raptis says businesses, and particularly markets that appeal to alternative living, are booming in these areas, so keep them on your radar.
MELBOURNE Hipster Spots
Melbourne’s established café culture is already a comfortable fit with the hipster ethic – it’s almost regarded as their Australian spiritual home city.
Melbourne is obsessed with lifestyle and the good life.
Great coffee, excellent but affordable restaurants/bars and small batch producers such as organic produce stores and farmer markets are all things attached to this subculture.
The masses want these things, too!
Cool areas are Collingwood, Brunswick and Northcote.
When considering evolving localities with potential for alternative appeal, he stays north of the Yarra with Footscray, Preston and Spotswood.
When it comes to rents.
The hipster demographic is renters, and tends to be happy to pay strong rents for the right location.
You could find that investors pick up benefits from the increasing rents within these areas.
BRISBANE – Hipster Spots
- West End
- Fortitude Valley
- New Farm
The hipster scene in the Sunshine state has been a strengthening force, and property owners are now reaping the rewards.
We are seeing interior styling taking daring new directions, the introduction of recycled materials, retro features, and splashes of bright colours.
These are all tell-tale signs of hipster influence, but in real world examples, we’ve seen sale prices in some suburbs being pushed ever higher.”
Brisbane’s three established cool locations are West End, Fortitude Valley and New Farm.
The cafes feature milk crate seating and single-origin coffee.
Areas that are beginning to gain a vibe include inner-ring established suburbs such as Moorooka and Annerley on Brisbane’s south side.
There’s even an overflow effect as other area become less affordable.
ADELAIDE – Hot Spots
- West Croydon
Property academic Peter Koulizos says South Australia’s capital may not have the international recognition of Sydney or Melbourne, but that doesn’t mean it’s without global citizens.
“Today’s hipsters are just a yuppie with a Ned Kelly beard (if you’re a male) and wearing less make-up (if you’re a female).
We have bars, clubs, cafes and laneways in the CBD and suburbs that entice the hipsters to get out of their rented period homes and onto their retro bikes.”
He says the subculture abounds in Goodwood, Wayville and Glandore, just south of the CBD, with public transport and bikeways at the residents’ disposal.
Koulizos says emerging hipster suburbs include Croydon, West Croydon and Thebarton.
These inner-western areas are transitioning away from industrial to residential.
“Evidence of attraction to hipsters is the number of retro bikes parked outside popular cafes and eateries, and the murals on power poles and old factory walls.
There are often community gardens on the footpath, too.”
HOBART Hipster Spots
- North Hobart
- West Hobart
Probably the nation’s most affordable option for anyone looking to enter the Australian hipster market, Hobart certainly has the food culture covered.
Irene Duckett of Irene Inc & Smith Street Studio says Hobart shouldn’t be left off the cool map.
Our southernmost centre has plenty to offer edge-dwellers.
“We definitely have a hipster scene. Ours are a slightly different breed, and are clearly discernible from the Fitzroy hipsters that migrate to Hobart during MOFO (music festival).
“Hipsters don’t drive cars so the suburbs where they live are all walking or biking distance from there.
“Based on this metric, our hipster suburbs are the inner-city frame (Central Hobart) tucked away in conversions, North Hobart, West Hobart, and for the trendsetting hipsters, Moonah.”
Moonah and surround is definitely breaking as hipster central, Duckett says, because of excellent cycling infrastructure, an abundance of old character industrial buildings begging for conversion, and a great migrant population – and it’s starting to accommodate artists and creatives, too.
“As with any cultural trendsetters, the hipsters, artists and creatives form the innovative pointy end of the bell curve, so it goes without saying that mainstream property prices will rise as a result.”
PERTH – Hipster Spots
- Mt Lawley
- E Victoria Park
- W Leederville
Gavin Hegney from Hegney Property Group says the hipster culture is alive and well in our most western capital.
Given its distance from our large east coast population, the DIY ethic of the subculture is often drawn upon.
Perth also has a little something extra to offer – lifestyle choice.
“The two hipster suburbs are Mount Lawley for the city dwellers and Scarborough for the beach dwellers,” he says. “Mt Lawley is an inner-suburb just north of Perth set along Beaufort Street, which is lined with cafes, one-off shops, small bars and entertainment. It’s proposed to put a light rail tram along Beaufort Street linking it to the city.
“There’s a mixture of property from older style one-bedroom units around $400,000 through to larger character home around $2 million.”
Hegney says Scarborough is appealing to the 20-somethings who want to be ‘where it’s at!
“Younger people like to group and don’t really want to be where there’s too much grey hair.
Maybe hair dye could change a suburb from blue-rinse to hipster?”
Hegney says the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority has a big vision for the Scarborough beachfront including an ocean pool, amphitheatre, redeveloped surf club and piazza, as well as density bonuses to stimulate redevelopment and general beautification of the area.
“Up and coming hipster suburbs are East Victoria Park, Northbridge, West Leederville and South Fremantle.”
This article was written by Keiran Clair and was originally published in Australian Property Investor Magazine and has been reproduced with their permission.
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