Once considered the Great Australian Dream, the family house on a quarter acre block is no longer everyone’s ultimate property choice. Significant changes in our population profile and lifestyle priorities are feeding a strong trend in apartment living.

Today, our lifestyles are vastly different to those of our parents. We’re working longer, starting families much later in life and we’re increasingly time poor. Proximity to beaches, cafes, shops and transport is becoming more important than owning a piece of land.

Although demand for houses continues strongly, particularly among families with more than one child, there is definitely a shift towards apartment living in our cities, which is being facilitated by a continuing improvement in the design and size of apartments.

In Australia’s capital cities, apartments are generally closer to the CBD than affordable houses. While some people are still motivated to move to outer ring areas in order to buy a house, the majority prefers to stay close to work and that means living in an apartment.

Apartments offer the highly appealing ‘lock-up-and-leave’ factor and they are usually close to established shopping and café districts. Australians also love the increasingly open-plan nature of apartments – a style of living we have grown fondly accustomed to.

Smaller families, the impact of the baby boomers and the lack of serviced land for detached housing in some cities mean this trend will continue in the long term.

People are getting married later in life and living in apartments longer. Apartments perfectly suit the executive lifestyles of double income couples, and when a baby comes along, they will often stay in their apartment or buy a bigger one in the same location.

The baby boomer factor is also significant in the rise of apartment living. We’re currently seeing a huge wave of empty-nesters selling their family homes and ‘downsizing’ to apartments. Low maintenance living is a priority for these buyers and new apartments are especially appealing, as they tend to offer that extra luxury factor.

Developers have really upped their game over the past 10 years. They’re building really high-quality and well-designed apartments that have strong appeal to discerning young professionals, baby boomers and small families.

Our love of coastal living is also enhancing our desire for apartments. We can’t create more land for houses near the beach but we can build more medium density housing, meaning beachside living increasingly goes hand-in-hand with apartment living.

Then there’s the New York factor. In Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane CBD particularly, massive development of architecturally-designed apartments has introduced the ‘New York’ style of inner city living. This is especially appealing to young singles and couples working in the CBD, with most new buildings offering gyms, pools and 24-hour concierges.

Is apartment living more expensive? Large apartments can command thousands of dollars in strata levies, yet busy Australians are increasingly willing to pay for someone else to handle repairs and maintenance. While levies are an affordability consideration for buyers under $500,000, they are not a deterrent to apartment living overall.  

In terms of capital growth, houses will generally appreciate at a greater rate than apartments due to the inherent value of scarce land in our cities. But the gap is definitely closing.

I always advise people to buy a property that suits their lifestyles first and foremost. But from an investment point of view, I still recommend houses over apartments particularly if you’re willing to buy a run down property and make some improvements to add value.

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.