The Great Australian Dream of home ownership – the quarter-acre block – is an exceptionally tough commodity to find in today’s tightly packed urban centres.

Unless you’re very wealthy, it’s unlikely you’ll find 1000 square metres within reasonable proximity of your major city with less than a multi-million dollar price tag.

According to independent data firm, RP Data, around 91 per cent of recent house sales within a 20km radius of our major cities involved blocks of less than one quarter acre. In some cases, much less – Sydney’s Chippendale is a great example with average lots of just 95 square metres.

These days, the big blocks are generally in the outer rings of our major employment hubs, and the long commute to work everyday for time poor families can significantly quell their desire for those precious 1000 square metres. It should also be noted that Greenfield development sites in the outer rings are increasingly made up of smaller lot sizes to raise profit margins and meet buyer demand for lower maintenance homes.

But these aren’t the only reasons why fewer Australians are living on quarter-acre blocks. The rise in apartment living is not simply related to the practical truth that our overpopulated cities require medium and high-density housing. It’s also related to people’s genuine desire for apartment living. Convenience, views, and the lock-up-and-leave factor – all of these things are prompting more people, including families, to make an apartment their home instead of the quintessential house and land package. The quarter-acre block is no longer the ultimate prize for every aspiring homeowner, particularly Gen Y buyers and the huge wave of empty-nester downsizers active in our markets today.

But Australians are very sentimental about home ownership, and the pride people feel in owning their own piece of land with a backyard for the kids can never be discounted. So I thought I’d share with you some new stats from RP Data which name the most affordable suburbs within 20km of every capital city where the average block size is a quarter acre or more. There are 86 suburbs nationwide within a 20km radius of a city that have an average land size above 1000 square metres – these are the most affordable of them.

The country’s top 10 smallest average block sizes can all be found in Sydney in suburbs such as Chippendale (95 square metres), Surry Hills (113 square metres), Paddington (130 square metres), Darlinghurst (135 square metres), Newtown (143 square metres) and Paddington (145 square metres), which immediately surround the CBD. 

If you’re going to sacrifice the quarter acre dream to be closer to the city, a good tip is to buy a property with a land size higher than the average for that area. For example, in Sydney’s Inner West, residential lots of 100 square metres to 200 square metres are very common. If you can nab a lot of just 300 square metres – less than a third of the Great Australian Dream – you’ll enjoy significantly higher capital growth and greater re-sale value in the long term.

Important information:This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.