The shape of property for the future – the shrinking Aussie household

Since time immemorial there has been a stereotypical, idealistic perception of how we choose to live in Australia.

Think suburban backyard Hills Hoists, dad mowing expansive lawns with the Victa on a Saturday and the 2.5 kids playing cricket with friends on a home made pitch.

While this might have been a fairly true to life image in the 1960’s and 70’s, things started to change in the late 80’s and 90’s and as the 21st century dawned, the Australian household demographic underwent a dramatic family urban suburb

Instead of mum, dad, two kids and the family dog, we began seeing an increase in the number of single person and two person households.

This shift has been so rapid that it is only in very recent times that property developers have begun acknowledging the transition with more high density dwellings being constructed across our capital cities.

Although this change to our landscape has been a long time coming, there still seems to be a bias toward building large McMansions in generic, outer suburban estates.

However we can no longer ignore this lifestyle shift, as one in four households is currently made up of just a single resident, compared to one in five two decades ago and one in ten 50 years ago.

And while it has traditionally been elderly Aussies living on their own, nowadays, as younger generations delay marriage and having children or choose not to do so at all, living alone has become prevalent amongst professional Gen X-ers and Y’s in the 25 to 35 year old age bracket.

More of us will be living alone

Over the decade to 2021 the number of people living in a traditional nuclear family (mum, dad and the kids) is expected to increase from 5.5 million to 6.3 million — an increase of 15 per cent.

However over the same time frame, single-person households are expected to increase by 24 per cent (from 2.1 million to 2.5 million.)

It’s different way of living.

Perhaps one of the most telling signs that this trend is developing momentum in Australian inner city areas is the growing café culture that caters for these young, modern singles. 


Along inner city bayside areas and within a 5 to 10 kilometre radius of our major CBD’s, backyards might be a dying breed, but trendy coffee houses, restaurants and boutique shops are increasingly popping up along bustling streets amid new and refurbished apartment complexes.

The take home message for investors and property developers is that when looking to sink money into inner urban areas, it is critical to consider your market.

No longer are sprawling detached homes the order of the day, but that doesn’t mean investors can simply assume that buying into a generic high rise building without considering your target tenant and owner occupier demographic carefully will ensure investment success.

In fact now more than ever, this growing group of young singletons are demanding higher standards when it comes to the accommodation they will accept.

And why not?

With property prices and rentals continuing to increase in highly sought after, inner city locations, discerning Gen X-ers and Y’s are seeking the quality to match these higher price tags.

So what boxes do you need to tick in order to attract these young, professional singles and couples?

Obviously they are looking for low maintenance buildings that offer modern, secure living in close proximity to all the amenities they hold near and dear, including those important social conveniences like upmarket cafes, bars and restaurants.SydneyTerraces

One and two bed accommodation are gaining popularity, however we are still seeing a preference for a bit of space and a spare room in many instances.

Balconies are always looked upon favourably as they add floor space and therefore rental and re-sale value to an apartment.

An allocated car space is highly desirable, even if public transport is prevalent.

Our team of buyer’s agents seek out older near city apartments for our clients to which they can add value with easy and relatively inexpensive refurbishment like a new kitchen, bathroom and floor coverings.

Modernising an outdated apartment gives it a wider appeal to a range of tenants, adds immediate equity lifts the rental and can give you depreciation benefits.

The key is to keep in mind that the trend of single or two person residences seems to be on the rise and given that real estate is a long term investment, it is critical to make sure the next property you add to you portfolio caters to this changing face of Australian households.

SO, HOW DO YOU FIND THESE GREAT PROPERTIES?17048600 - 3d people - man, person and a red exclamation mark

If you’re looking for independent advice, no one can help you quite like the independent property investment strategists at Metropole.

Remember the multi award winning team of property investment strategists at Metropole have no properties to sell, so their advice is unbiased.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned property investor, we would love to help you formulate an investment strategy or do a review of your existing portfolio, and help you take your property investment to the next level.
Please click here to organise a time for a chat. Or call us on 1300 20 30 30.

When you attend our offices in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane you will receive a free copy of my latest 2 x DVD program Building Wealth through Property Investment in the new Economy valued at $49.


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George Raptis


George is a Director of Metropole Property Strategists in Sydney. He shares his 27 years of experience in the property industry as a licensed estate agent and active property investor to help create wealth for his clients.

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