Nearly one third of Sydney’s households now live in apartments, with the proportion set to grow to one half within a generation.
That means more and more families are opting for apartment style living, for both financial and lifestyle reasons. But as their children grow they are more likely to live in detached houses.
Development lobby group Urban Taskforce has commissioned a report from market research firm McCrindle into the profile of apartment dwellers. The data covers Sydney only, but the trends are likely applicable to Australia’s other large cities.
The analysis is based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016 census, and from a McCrindle survey of 1500 apartment dwellers. The research identifies five household types, based on ABS definitions, but with some given trendy market segmentation names:
Single person households (‘Solo metropolites’)
Comprise 34 percent of apartment households. Renters:63 percent. Major age groups: 53-71 (37 percent), 38-52 (29 percent).
Key reasons for living in an apartment: Access to public transport (47 percent), low maintenance (42 percent), affordability (35 percent).
Couples with no children (‘Cosmo couples’)
Comprise 27 percent of apartment households. Renters: 48 percent. Major age groups:23-37 (43 percent), 53-71 (29 percent). Note that only 11 percent of this group is in the 38-52 age group – childless couples tend to be younger people, or older people whose children have left home. Couples in their middle years are more likely to have children and less likely to live in apartments.
Key reasons for living in an apartment: Access to public transport (59 percent), affordability (51 percent), safety and security (31 percent).
Couples with children (‘Vertical families’)
Comprise 20 percent of apartment households. Renters: 61 percent. Major age groups: 23-37 (64 percent). The preponderance of couples with children in this younger age group also indicates that couples with older children tend to want to move out of apartments.
Key reasons for living in an apartment: Access to public transport (45 percent), affordability (43 percent), safety and security (35 percent).
One parent families
Comprise 8 percent of apartment households. Renters: 78 percent. Major age groups 38-52 (49 percent), 23-37 (46 percent),
Key reasons for living in an apartment: Access to public transport (51 percent), affordability (46 percent). proximity to schools and child care (39 percent).
Other households – group households, extended families, etc.
Comprise 11 percent of apartment households. These were not separately analysed by the McCrindle research.
“We were amazed to find so many families,” said Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson. “The research shows that normal families [by which we assume he means families with children] and other household types have welcomed the apartment lifestyle with its access to amenities and public transport.”
Mr Johnson said the research was stimulated by the growing concerns across Sydney about increased densities and the swing to apartment living. “The concerns have been picked up by politicians who seem to have become nervous about apartment buildings generally.”
The McCrindle research also asked about voting intentions. Generally speaking, apartment dwellers are more likely to vote for Labor than the Coalition. Urban Taskforce believes there may be a message here.
“Politicians must pay attention to the various demographic groups who live in apartments, as they can have a different political preference to house dwellers.
“Our research shows that most groups living in apartments are most likely to vote for the Labor Party, with only urban couples with no children more likely to vote for the Coalition. As suburbs increase the number of apartments as a proportion of all homes it is likely that the voting preferences will change.”
The research also identified some key differences between apartment dwellers compared to detached house dwellers.
Walking to amenities within 500 metres
- Apartment dwellers (23 percent)
- House dwellers (9 percent)
- Apartment dwellers (63 percent)
- House dwellers (18 percent)
18-37 year olds
- Apartment dwellers (46 percent)
- House dwellers (33 percent)
- Apartment dwellers (42 percent)
- House dwellers (25 percent)
Education – university degree
- Apartment dwellers (54 percent)
- House dwellers (40 percent)
Mobile lifestyle – less than five years in home
- Apartment dwellers (55 percent)
- House dwellers (27 percent)
General findings on the personalities of apartment dwellers
- Highly engaged, often reading, interested in current affairs (80 percent)
- Politically progressive on social policy (78 percent)
- More focussed on life experiences than accumulating wealth (72 percent).
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