Category: Housing Trends
In 2011, I wrote about inner city high density housing, and the idea that empty nesters were moving in there. The article concluded that while there were a few empty nesters downsizing into inner city tower blocks, overwhelmingly these areas are occupied by the young, with no strong trend of over 65s moving into high density. That was based on 2006 Census data so I thought it was worth a look to see whether the situation had changed for 2011.
How we occupy households is a little considered aspect of how populations at small areas grow and change. We’ve already looked at vacant dwellings, but what about those dwellings that are occupied? The household composition variable from the Census tells us how people live in dwellings, whether it’s a family household with one or two parents, a lone person household, or a group household. Household composition varies considerably across a region and has some relationship to age, but it also reflects the evolving nature of our suburbs and how they change as they mature. Let’s look at some examples and what factors .id’s forecasters consider.
I’m probably showing my age by paraphrasing Noosha Fox’s hit song from the 1970s, but it’s what came to mind when I thought about how the number of bedrooms in Australian homes and how they’ve changed over the years. It is often said that Australia has the largest houses in the world and this is most often measured by looking at average floor size of new homes. These figures, from ABS Building Approvals data, indicate that over the period 2000-01 to 2008-09 the average floor area of new houses in Australia increased from 227.5m2 to 248.0m2. These larger homes fly in the face of demographic evidence indicating that smaller households, such as couples and lone persons, are becoming more and more common. So, as we’ve blogged before – why do we need all this space? This blog will have a look at an alternative measure of dwelling size – the number of bedrooms and how this has changed between the 2001 and 2011 Census.
Vacant dwellings are an important component of the dwelling stock and they exist for a number of reasons. This includes turnover of tenancy, renovation, or perhaps the most well known – the holiday or second home. Parts of coastal Australia have very high dwelling vacancy rates, and we’ve already presented some of the 2011 Census data on this in a previous blog. Since the 1980s, the dwelling vacancy rate in some coastal areas has declined considerably, leading many commentators and forecasters to assume that retirees are moving into their former holiday homes. This is not an unreasonable assumption given the evidence from the migration data from past Censuses. However the 2006 Census showed a general reversal of the long term decline in vacancy rates (both the proportion and the number of dwellings), which caused a rethink this assumption. Have dwelling vacancy rates continued on their long term downward trend, or did 2006 represent an anomaly?
Household size (that is, the average number of people counted in the Census in private dwellings in Australia) has been declining for the last 100 years. In 1911, the average household size for Australia was 4.5. By 2006, it had fallen to 2.53. There are various reasons for that, chief among them – the ageing population, people living in their own homes for longer before going into aged care, couples having less children and having them later in life, and a preference for living alone at all ages. But in 2011, something remarkable happened. Household size increased. Not in all areas and not by much, but it did increase, stablising or reversing some of these trends.
I recently wrote a blog where I made the point that the largest group attracted to greenfield developments in growth areas were younger families with parents typically aged 20-34 years. This prompted queries about the mix of housing achieved within newly developing areas.
On 17/10/2011, The Age reported, in what seems to be an ongoing series on housing (un)affordability, that families can no longer afford to purchase housing in the inner city. See the article “Housing Costs pushing families to the fringe”. This was based on a recent study by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI). The statement:
“These household affordability differentials appear to be shaping a new urban and social form, with families and detached housing on the fringe and non-family households in inner-city and middle-ring locations” is interesting, because all our research and observation here at .id shows that this is far from a new form!
The Land Values Research Group, an economic blog which looks at things like monetary policy, taxation and housing investment, recently published an interesting article, which said that dwelling turnover rate is at a 16 year low. It shows that sales of dwellings across Australia are at their lowest rate since 1995. In 1995, house prices were depressed and didn’t start to rise until about 1998, which was the beginning of the enormous rise in house values that we’ve seen over the past decade or so. What does Census data show about the change to this point and what demographic impacts it may have?
In which countries of the world do families live in apartments? I suspect that a significant percentage of families live in apartments in all urbanised (developed and developing) countries – with the exception of New Zealand and Australia.