An Australian's house provides major evidence to his claim of living a lifestyle that resembles the majority of the country. A quarter acre block with a backyard spacious enough for a BBQ and patio is synonymous with many Australians’ lifestyle. However, this lifestyle has become harder to attain for the current generation of Australians.
From the late 1990’s, Melbourne has experienced a housing boom that now sees the city as having some of the most unaffordable real estate in the world, quite bizarre for a city that has in recent years been crowned as one of the world’s most liveable cities. High lot sizes, a booming mining sector, and record migration levels coupled with the omnipresent expensive construction and development costs have contributed to housing prices more than tripling in the 15 year period from 1995 to 2010. However, prices have recently scaled back significantly, with the global financial crisis and calming economic growth in Asia being factors associated with this slowdown. Looking back on what has transpired over this boom period provides us with the opportunity to assess the reactionary measures that the market has attempted to provide for more affordable housing. The promotion of density has been pursued through the unsuccessful Docklands development, as well as by the easing of planning restrictions in the inner developed suburbs (much to the chagrin of local communities).
The development of apartment towers in the last 5 years has coincided with the cooling of housing prices. 50 meters squared “shoebox housing” is stock that Europeans may be accustomed to; however, their unpopularity in Melbourne has seen many apartment towers being up to 50% vacant. Owners often struggle to cover mortgages due to paltry yields associated with the glut of similar new stock on the market.
Whilst the inner urban areas densify, the fringe areas are being expanded to provide affordable housing for middle- and lower-class families. Though this expansion is providing much needed affordable housing for demographics that may struggle to afford the prices in inner Melbourne, limited road and transport infrastructure, as well as lack of consistent growth in regional outer areas, has hindered demand levels. This housing bubble has entirely changed the paradigm as to how Melburnians live their lives.
Just how sustainable the end product from these new trends of housing will be paramount in determining whether Melbourne can maintain an exceptionally liveable environment for the 5 million inhabitants it plans to have by 2030. How has the housing market changed the lifestyles choices, urban design and urban planning of your city?
Credits: Image by Steven Petsinis. Data linked to sources.