As it has in the past, demographic changes will continue to drive the demand for housing, its type and its location. In Australia, the composition of our population continues to evolve. We are seeing our population increase not only through natural growth, but also change as our migration intake varies.
Currently, the population is growing at an annual rate of 1.6 per cent, which in the 12 months to March 2019 was an extra 388,000 people. The majority of this increase comes from overseas migration. Due to Australia’s visa regulations, many migrants arrive as young adults either to study at university or to work under a skilled migrant visa. They then often choose to stay in Australia permanently and start families.
On an interesting note, the natural population is also about to experience a mini ‘baby boomlet’ as the millennial generation, who are the children of the baby boomers, begin to have children themselves – albeit only an echo of the original baby boom. Along with the impact of overseas migration, this will result in an increase in demand for family-friendly homes in the decades ahead.
The challenge will be to determine where these new families will live and in what type of dwelling. Will they choose to continue to live in inner-city apartments or will they move to new urban growth areas? Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.
Apartments tend to be closer to the CBD where many people work, meaning a shorter commute and access to more services, but they can lack space and sought-after amenities for new families. On the other hand, detached houses in greenfield estates hold a good deal of appeal because you have the advantage of owning a piece of land and greater freedom to build the type of home you want, but you are further away from the CBD.
There is however a third housing option which is currently underprovided for in Australia – ‘the Missing Middle’. This consists of low-rise medium-density dwellings, such as townhouses, duplexes and manor houses, in middle-ring, established suburbs.