Kerry Paul, with dog Joey, bought a new Toga unit in Balmain to enjoy a lower maintenance lifestyle. Picture: Justin Lloyd.
Our tastes in housing are getting smaller, sending the average size of homes tumbling to a 20-year low.
Research from Commsec and the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed the typical area of an Aussie home, including units and houses, was just 189.9sqm in 2017, well below figures for previous years.
The shrinking size of homes was partly due to a surge in the construction of high density units, but even detached houses have been getting smaller — the average Aussie house was 233sqm last year, down from 247.7 in 2008/09.
Buyer’s advocate Ken Premtic of Secret Agent said homes were getting smaller because buyers often put a higher priority on being close to amenities and public infrastructure.
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“Smaller, well-designed spaces are becoming more and more popular,” he said, adding that compact homes were often better located, cheaper to buy and maintain, and were often more environmentally sustainable.
“It’s the lifestyle of being able to go out on a Saturday, walk 100m and be at a great cafe,” Mr Premtic said, adding that families were also making more of small spaces with cleverly thought out renovations.
Some buyers will pay big money for homes even if they are small. This one-bedroom apartment on Macleay St in Potts Point recently sold for $1.89 million.
“If there is scope to add value and make changes it’s definitely being explored,” he said.
New builds were another key to the smaller living movement. The Sociable Weaver head of design Michael Nowlan said there was a “massive shift” toward building smaller.
“People are being more mindful of the environment … they’re not needing excessive size,” he said.
Smaller homes also meant space could be used with greater efficiency, Mr Nowlan said, revealing that some residents of larger homes only used about 40 per cent of their floorspace.
“We are seeing a trend for people wanting to be more conscious with their design and only design what they really need … It’s (creating) a new narrative to what the great Australian dream is.”
The key to living in a smaller home was finding one that was well-designed, Mr Premtic said. “You can have a space which is 70sqm and feels like 50sqm, or a space that’s 70sqm and feels like its 90sqm,” he said.
Clever design also needed to be complemented by a location with lifestyle benefits, Mr Premtic added. “The two go hand-in-hand. You need both: well-designed and with local amenity.”
Most home buyers found they could go even smaller than first thought and instead spend extra money on quality finishes, he said.
Long-time Balmain resident Kerry Paul had been living in a large terrace for nearly 35 years and said relocating to a smaller unit nearby was one of the best moves she made.
Kerry Paul said living in a unit was easier than a large terrace.
She had only been living on the bottom level of the two-storey terrace since her children had moved out and realised her long-time home required considerable care.
“When you’re living in a 120-year-old terrace you have to constantly be on top of the maintenance,” she said.
It was only when she discovered development Toga Harbourfront-Balmain that she realised the merits of downsizing.
“I liked that they were in a smaller block and mine was only a single level. It has great views. I didn’t feel like I was losing a garden, but there was also less for me to maintain.”