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Is Australia prepared for the demand of apartments?


Over the past 25 years, there has been a 78% increase in apartment living, according to the 2016 Census of population and housing.


This shift has become a choice for many families due to affordability, convenience and lifestyle.


But as this cultural shift occurs, there is a stronger demand for apartments in the inner cities, as more individuals and families are wanting to relocate themselves in an appropriate zip-code for their personal and family benefits.


This is the case for married couple Natasha and Dimitri Docker, who have an 18-month old son, John. The couple are residing in a three-bedroom apartment in the convenient location of Bondi Beach.


They feel that living in an apartment has been a positive experience with starting a family due to its low maintenance: “you don’t have…the maintenance of a house…[as] living in an apartment is done by the strata.” Natasha stated.



Natasha and her son, John pictured at their apartment in Bondi Beach.
Photo: Laura Rando


A lot of families are finding it less stressful to live in an apartment as they are able to spend more time with their family, rather than worrying about the up keep of a house.


For Natasha, proximity and convenience is a main reason to why she loves apartment living: “I like living in an apartment because you can walk everywhere…It is close to everything, being like Double Bay, Bondi Junction [and] Bondi Beach.”


Brian Reid, Chief Executive Officer of Raine and Horne found that the millennials are more “driven in terms of what their requirements are for their lifestyle.”


Their lifestyle decision is “based around…cafés, infrastructure [and] proximity to transport.” stated Mr Reid.


Interestingly enough Mr Reid acknowledged that the amount of living space has diminished due to people’s lifestyle: “[People] are spending more time out at coffee shops and restaurants [meaning that] the size of the kitchen requirements [have] reduced.”


From the 2016 census of housing and property states that 47% of Australia’s occupied apartments are in NSW. Statistics prove that apartments are the popular choice for many.

Photo of apartments in Hollywood Avenue, Bondi Junction. Photo: Laura Rando


Developers, builders and architects are beginning to feel a pressure for timeliness, as they are having to get plans approved at a faster rate, not leaving an adequate amount of time to propose enhanced ideas for the planning stages. So, as the demand rises so does the stress.


Mr Reid states that “the cost of actually getting that infrastructure approved is taking longer and longer. More so because of the bureaucracy that you need to deal with.”


The pressures that confine developers have become immensely based around the timeliness of the matter, and what can be approved and finished at a reasonable time to meet the necessary requirements of the families and individuals who are wanting to reside in high rise apartments.


New apartments on Oxford Street in Bondi Junction. Photo: Laura Rando


Despite the reduced time period that developers have to complete the required project, Mr Reid believes that “just because something is going up quickly and it is done in a different fabric, doesn’t mean that it is an inferior product.”


Brian discusses the strain that is associated with not only worrying about approvals from the state government, but also from the local communities: “there seems to be a lot more people that are taking interest in developments that’s in their immediate communities.”


This opinion that is created through local communities then puts a strain on the short term infrastructures, ultimately creating problems for the state government, local government and property developers.


However, this demand for apartments has been supported by the Government due to the economical benefits that the Government encounters through such an excessive demand.


If a suburb has a high density of apartments it increases the tax rates, council rates and so forth. Therefore, the government has had an increase in cash flow for consolidated revenue. But is the Government prepared for this demand?


As discussed with Mr Reid, he acknowledged that “the revenue is really built around the tax’s…the local government is concerned about the ongoing rates, so…they are very keen to support those types of developments. So whether it is being on a federal, state or local government area there are obviously benefits to try and utilise the developments.”


CEO of Raine & Horne. Photo: Andrew Harrington, Raine & Horne SA


However, Mr Reid acknowledges that despite the government benefiting off the demand of apartments, he states that “the issue that they have is whether or not they are able to capitalise on that infrastructure. By that I mean, putting more trains on the same lines or…mak[ing] sure bus services and facilities are already there.”


According to the 2016 census, apartments are mostly located in the capital city areas of the state. For NSW, 87% of apartments were occupied within the capital city, as only 11% were occupied in the rest of the state and territory.


Therefore, the discussion of land capacity becomes relevant within NSW. Mr Reid questioned the Government’s capabilities of continuously being able to provide all the necessary needs for the extensive demand of the apartments: “Do they have the necessary land bank to increase the capacities for the schools [and] hospitals, [the vital necessities] that people are going to demand in those areas.”


Statistics show from the 2016 Census of population and housing that almost 44% of families with children (either one or two parents) were living in apartments in Australia.


“Definitely [more families are settling into apartments due to a] trend that has probably been emerging over the last 10-15 years.” stated Mr Brien.


The real question that many are wondering is that if Australia is going to be able to keep up with the demands of apartment living?


“…It is going to be very difficult for state governments to maintain that level of supply [of apartments], even though they are doing there best over the short period of time…to try and speed up that process…But we are finding that those processes…are still taking longer to get [approved].” concluded Mr Brien.