Australian Apartments - Which State Reigns Supreme?

Regardless of a fluctuating market, property ownership is still the Australian dream, and purchasing an apartment (whether it’s owner-occupied or as an investment) is a path that many Australians are taking to get there. 

Apartment construction and ownership has changed greatly in Australia over the years. More Australians than ever are taking up apartment living, for a variety of factors including cost saving, convenience and downsizing arrangements. The 2016 Census of Population and Housing found that 10% of all Australians spent census night in an apartment. Australia’s capital cities (predominantly Sydney and Melbourne) are key examples of urban phenomenons such as the increase in high-rise living, where towering new developments are held in high regard, solidifying themselves as ownership beacons for property buyers and investors. 

Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about Australian apartments and who lives in them. 

1. Nearly half (47 per cent) of Australia’s occupied strata-managed apartments are in New South Wales. This ties in with the fact that in 2016, the population of Sydney was 4,920,970 - 20 per cent of Australia’s total population! However, Melbourne is quickly becoming close to overtaking the harbour city, and is forecast to become Australia’s largest city within the 25 years following 2016. 

2. Census results have confirmed that there is a rising prevalence for apartment blocks to be constructed as four stories or higher. The proportion of occupied apartments that are considered to be ‘high-rise’ doubled from 19 per cent in 1991 to 39 per cent in 2016.  Australia’s tallest residential building is the Q1 on the Gold Coast, standing at 322.5 metres high. It’s the sixth tallest residential tower in the world, and the tallest in both Australia and the Southern Hemisphere. 

3. In 1991 in Australia, there was one occupied apartment for every seven occupied houses. Now, there is one occupied apartment for every five occupied houses. 

4. There are three capital cities in Australia that contain over 90% of the occupied apartments in their state. These are Melbourne at 94 per cent, Perth at 92 per cent, and Adelaide at 91 per cent. 

As well as a predominantly high-rise landscape, a land shortage in the Victorian capital’s Central Business District has also led to the construction of a number of ‘skinny towers’. Developers have increasingly been targeting tiny land sites to build skyscrapers like the Phoenix apartment tower, which takes just eight steps to walk from one side to the other.  

Slender towers are prevalent in Melbourne as developers have capitalised on the existing permits that were issued by the former Victorian planning Minister Matthew Guy, who earned himself the nickname ‘Mr Skyscaper’ due to his pro-development stance for the Central Business District.

5. New South Wales apartment-dwellers are the lucky owners of the largest average areas in Australia. Newly-built apartments in South Australia average out at 152.3 metres squared, which beats other major capital cities by over 14.9 per cent. 

6. In 2016, 29 per cent of all apartment residents in Australia (excluding their visitors) resided in the 25 to 34 age range. Another 11 per cent of these residents were children aged between 0 and 14 years, which is slightly up from the 10 per cent share which was recorded a decade earlier. 

7. Our brothers and sisters in the United States like their houses and apartments BIG -  eight per cent bigger than ours, in fact! However, although our Aussie apartments stay small, we still enjoy building a big free-standing house. The average new Australian house in the 2016/2017 financial year was 233.3 square metres. This is the biggest amount in four years, coming in at almost 11 per cent bigger than 20 years ago.

8. However, we don’t seem to share the penchant for large apartment properties that our friends’ stateside enjoy. In fact, our apartments are getting smaller! Throughout the period between 2004 and 2009, the average apartment size was 140 metres squared. Today, it’s closer to 130 metres squared. 

9. It was recorded that in 2016 and 2017, the biggest apartments could be found in the Northern Territory, with an average floor space of 154.5 metres squared. However this data may be unreliable, as it could have been distorted by the small number of completions that occurred within the year. In fact, only 1,173 new apartments were built in the Northern Territory within this time period. 

High-rise living in Australia

So, perhaps the Australian property dream has expanded from the quintessential two-storey house with the backyard and pool. 

More and more people are wanting to be closer to Central Business Districts and areas of economy generation than ever before, with high density living providing amazing work opportunities and fantastic lifestyle potential. 

With this influx into the city comes a large demand for apartment living for cost effectiveness, proximity and location, and saving frustrations when it comes to repairs, maintenance and amenities. 

Ben Hugh

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