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More house, less people

By Jazz - 11 January 2008 39

I’ve long held a theory that the reason we have such a squeeze on rental accomodation is that there are now fewer people per house. And lo, i am validated. At least according to this article in todays CT.

We’re now living at 2.6 people per household in the ACT compared to a decade ago when it was 2.8. May not seem like much but that 0.2 amounts to a need for 8800 additional dwellings in canberra’s current population, probably equating to 3 whole suburbs.

The more interesting thing to note is the massive increase in property size over the same 10 years. Everyone seeminly wants a McMansion because the average house size has increased from 203sqm to 247sqm in australia.

With these trends it would seem that the days of the basic 3 bedroom govie house are long gone, and with diminishing block sizes perhaps the time honored tradition of backyard cricket as well.

What’s Your opinion?


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39 Responses to
More house, less people
Mr Waffle 3:29 pm 11 Jan 08

Travelling in Japan really put this into perspective for me. A friend was living in a two room apartment, with a little kitchen, bathroom & hall connecting it. It was considered pretty damned good sized accommodation for the area (outskirts of Kyoto, poorer factory-worker area), especially for one person. Her neighbours were almost all families, the largest she knew of being 2 grand parents, 2 parents, 1 child and 1 large dog. This wasn’t considered strange to the locals at all.

When I got home to our 5 bedroom house (for 3 people), I felt a mixture of how lucky we (both my family and Australians in general) are, and how shameful it is that we waste so much space…

VYBerlinaV8 3:20 pm 11 Jan 08

Also, why is having larger houses a problem? If people pay for them then that’s up to them. Who are we to tell people where they can and can’t live?

It also drives the market up, which is good for people like me who own more than one property.

VYBerlinaV8 3:15 pm 11 Jan 08

People do what they want, and what they can. Houses get bigger and better during the good times (ie last 10 years), and then it all comes back into focus when times get tougher (ie global recession starting).

Gungahlin Al 2:54 pm 11 Jan 08

It’s a growing problem across the country this big house business. The building industry claims they are just responding to market demand, but they won’t ever acknowledge the role they play in shifting people towards the higher expectations, and that they could do so much better if they took on a role as the subject experts in education home buyers to plan their new homes better.

As an example of what can be done, in planning our new house, we analysed what we really needed. The “formal dining room” was the first to go – who uses them anyway? The 4th bedroom for guests was next. Making bedrooms 2 & 3 larger allowed for them to be used by guests during the relatively few times guests stay, with the kids kicked out to the “rumpus/family room” (which is the only room upstairs). An open plan kitchen, dining, lounge saves space otherwise wasted on walls and doors, plus provides a great big area for entertaining. And the overall layout has been designed so that very little space is wasted on hallways.

These few minor changes have big impacts on the overall building footprint, leaving us a sizable back yard despite only being about 550m sq block, and inside the individual rooms are spacious – not the little rabbit warrens that people get when they try to fit 4 bedrooms, 2 dining, 2 living, 2 bathrooms on less than 600m sq.

I’m not advocating a return to the Ainslie govvie, but likewise the Jerra or Gungahlin monster is just not needed. Not to mention how much it costs to build and maintain.

All over our area we have great big houses where people have sunk every $ they can raise into it, but have left nothing for landscaping so live surrounded by dirt and weeds for months or even years.

Pandy 1:55 pm 11 Jan 08

Roberto: Proof?

Jazz 1:23 pm 11 Jan 08

roberto, I agree. Although i wasnt directly invovled with tenants when i worked at Housing ACT a few years ago I got a definate impression that the basic expectations of Joe Average had increased. It seemed to me to be refelcted in policy as to what types of properties housing had to buy.

bonfire 1:05 pm 11 Jan 08

the recession will rectify this.

Senor Roberto 12:22 pm 11 Jan 08

There’s not a shortage of rental properties if you want to pay $400 a week, that’s for sure.

There’s a shortage of affordable accommodation, though, since almost all the development over the last 5 years has been luxury/premium/McMansions and apparently they require luxury/premium rents.

What about places like Sky Plaza (a McApartment complex) can’t sell ’em and can’t rent ’em?

farout 11:59 am 11 Jan 08

[May not seem like much but that 0.2 amounts to a need for 8800 additional dwellings in canberra’s current population]

Couldn’t it just be that the 0.2% no longer live in Canberra? Maybe moved interstate or pushing up daisies?

jaydee 11:33 am 11 Jan 08

I like it too! It sums up the situation nicely.
I had only heard it before as referring to the Big Brother house and housemates.

Jazz 11:24 am 11 Jan 08

I haven’t heard that one Deano. I like it

Deano 11:03 am 11 Jan 08

I much prefer the Aussie term “Boganvilla” over the Yank ‘McMansion’ for describing these wastes of space.

Thumper 10:51 am 11 Jan 08

I have a mansion, and I hope to increase my carbon footprint in the coming year roughly to the size of a small African nation.

jaydee 10:48 am 11 Jan 08

I was only thinking about this the other night as I watered the garden and looked back into my house through the windows. I have a lovely 2 storey house, 2 bedrooms, 2 sitting rooms on a small block of land – just for me. The next 2 houses down the hill are occupied by singles, while directly over the road there are four singles in four houses – each as big as this one, if not bigger.

It’s silly that we all have these huge spaces – but, at the same time, I really love all my “stuff” and don’t want to live somewhere smaller. I like to have the spare bedroom as an office and for when friends come to stay. I am too old and cranky to share with someone who is equally old and cranky! I am not too sure what the solution is.

S4anta 10:27 am 11 Jan 08

Its the ‘obesity crisis’ too. Put down the fork you fat bastards so you dont have to build houses with bigger doorways FFS.

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