The Fading Australian Dream

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Housing affordability is currently a key issue of discussion in Australia and while there are a number of factors at play, the main price driver is that demand for houses is exceeding supply. Population growth, a trend to smaller households (and so more homes needed relative to the population), and demand for homes not only from first home buyers but also from downsizers, overseas buyers, local investors, and self-managed super funds and trusts are all fuelling price rises.

While Australia’s current annual population growth of 1.4% may seem modest, this adds almost 340,000 to our population each year- which is one new Darwin every 20 weeks or a new Tasmania every 18 months.

Where population growth is strongest, house price rises are the highest

Sydney is growing much faster than this having averaged 1.8% per annum for the last five years. It will add almost two million to its population by 2037 – which is the equivalent of adding a new Perth into Sydney. Melbourne is currently Australia’s fastest growing city and based on the current growth trends, it will overtake Sydney to become the nation’s largest city around the middle of this century. Unsurprisingly where population growth is strongest, house price rises are the highest.

Earnings growth has not kept up with house price growth

In just twenty years, the average Sydney house price has increased more than five-fold from $233,250 in 1997 to $1,190,390 today while in Melbourne prices over the same period have increased by more than six times from $142,000 to $943,100 today. While it is true that wages have increased over this time, earnings growth has not kept up with house price growth. In 20 years, average annual full-time earnings have not quite doubled from $42,010 in 1997 to $82,784 today.

The impact of growing demand on house prices is most evident when comparing prices to average earnings. Twenty years ago, the average Sydney house was 5.6 times average annual earnings while in Melbourne it was an affordable 3.4 times annual earnings. Today Sydney homes are more than 14 times average earnings, and in Melbourne more than 11 times annual earnings. While the maxim that house prices double every 10 years is not always the case and growth fluctuates, since 1997 Sydney prices have in effect doubled every 8 years while Melbourne has managed this every 6 years.

If the growth metrics over the last two decades play out over the next two, the average home in both Sydney and Melbourne in 2037 will exceed $6 million. Clearly, the Australian dream of home ownership for the next generation is fading. Young people today need almost three times the purchasing power that their parents needed to buy the average place, so even double incomes will not quite do it. Additionally, today’s new households are starting their earnings years later than their parents, having spent longer in tertiary studies, and they begin their economic life not with zero savings like their parents, but well into the negative- with interest accumulating study debts to pay off. Even if today’s emerging generations start saving harder and earlier and live with their parents longer, home ownership is still not a given.

Policy settings around migration and baby bonuses have grown the population and policies around property tax incentives, self-managed superannuation and investment provisions have fuelled property demand therefore policy support will be required to bring the great Australian dream a little bit closer to reality.

Sources: Population at 2017 (ABS). 1997 prices: Macquarie University (Abelson). 2017 house prices: Core Logic. Analysis: McCrindle

Generation Y and Housing Affordability

Monday, October 24, 2016

As Australia’s leading social researchers, the senior research team at McCrindle are actively involved in media commentary. Last week our Principal, Mark McCrindle and Team Leader of Communications, Ashley McKenzie were featured in the media about Generation Y and their ability to access the housing market in Sydney.

Generation Y are today’s 22 – 36 year olds, and make up 22% of the Australian population (5.22 million). They also make up the largest cohort in the current workforce (34%). Gen Y’s are comprised of today’s parents, senior leaders, influencers, and increasingly wealth accumulators. With 1 in 3 being university educated (compared to 1 in 5 Baby Boomers), they have grown up in shifting times and are digital in nature, global in outlook and are living in accelerated demographic times.

While Generation Y are often accused of living a lavish lifestyle, which supposedly locks them out of the property market, it is important to remember that traditional expense categories such as food, transport, health and housing costs are higher for younger people today than that experienced by their parents at the same age. A generation ago the average house price was 5 times annual average earnings while today the average house price is 13 times the average annual full-time earnings.

Here is a quick snapshot of last week’s media coverage:

Housing Affordability Debate

"From the Baby Boomer perspective, they worked hard, they earned what they had but I can also see the Gen Y perspective. The reality is that it's a lot harder to buy a home, the costs have gone up. Gen Y do have to pay off the debt of their degree and there are new categories of spend; technology, internet and phone, costs that their parents didn’t have."  

Parental help becoming essential for young people trying to buy property

"Ms McKenzie, who works for social researcher Mark McCrindle, said borrowing from parents was becoming Sydney’s “new normal”. “Baby Boomers control about 50 per cent of the nation’s wealth so it makes sense young people look to their parents for help,” she said." 

For any media enquiries please email us at, or call our offices on +61 2 8824 3422. To arrange a media interview or if you are a journalist and would like to receive our media updates, please email

A Snapshot of the Changes Transforming Real Estate

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Change. It’s happening all around us, and it’s easy to be intimidated by the scope and scale of it, but if we can observe the trends and the shifts, then we don’t have to become victims of change but rather we can proactively respond. That’s what’s key. Having the confidence to move forward strategically and proactively, to embrace the trends rather than hide from them.

Earlier this year Mark McCrindle presented Understanding the Times, Shaping the Trends: A Snapshot of the Changes Transforming Real Estate at the Real Estate Institute of Victoria National 2016 Conference. Here are some of his thoughts on trends shaping the Real Estate Industry.

How are generational differences impacting the REAL Estate industry?

Generationally, it is more important than ever to understand the six generations that we have in Australia. While the younger generations might not be active clients in terms of real estate vendors, they do influence parental purchasing and decisions a lot.

We can sometimes pre-qualify people based on our perception of where they’re at in their life stage, but actually there are a lot of people in their late 70’s who are still active in property, perhaps downsizing to buy their next place. Then you’ve got someone in their early 20’s who’s maybe not buying their own place, but perhaps looking at an expensive home because they will be living in that home with their parents. We have to understand the diversity of the generations and all of them may well be active influencers in the buying decision.

Do you have any recommendations on how the Real Estate industry can engage their community?

Sometimes the best connections are actual connections, not just personal ones. The events, the openings, the events where we invite the community along and talk about the area and what’s happening. That brand experience, where people can come to meet and greet with free pizza or cocktails, that sort of thing is what works well, people are looking for that social interaction.

Any tips for those working in real estate?

Well I’d sum it up with the 4 R’s of Real Estate in the 21st Century:


Keep it real and authentic


To adjust and adapt


Keep it relational in terms of how we connect


We can’t just rely on yesterday’s wins, we have to adjust and adapt to remain responsive to the needs of today


Mark is an award-winning social researcher, best-selling author, TedX speaker and influential thought leader, and is regularly commissioned to deliver strategy and advice to the boards and executive committees of some of Australia’s leading organisations.

Mark’s understanding of the key social trends as well as his engaging communication style places him in high demand in the press, on radio and on television shows, such as Sunrise, Today, The Morning Show, ABC News 24 and A Current Affair.

His research firm counts amongst its clients more than 100 of Australia’s largest companies and his highly valued reports and infographics have developed his regard as a data scientist, demographer, futurist and social commentator.


The New Australian Dream

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Owning your own four bedroom house on a decent block of land with a big backyard and outdoor swimming pool used to be the quintessential 'Great Australian Dream'. But with rising property prices and increased living costs, that dream is being redefined.

what is the Average Australian Profile?

The average full time annual income in Australia is $80,000, which is bumped up a bit because of high income earners. Even though we are living longer now than a generation ago, the average retirement age is little changed, at 61.5 years.

The cost of housing is up with average rent prices per week at $485/week and the average house price (capital city) is $765,730. In Melbourne it is well above this and in Sydney it is around $1 million. This is where the challenge is for Australians: 40 years ago the average house price was around 5 time’s average earnings and now you can see it is almost 10 times the average annual fulltime earnings.

Other than affordability, what else are Aussies looking for?

Lifestyle is key. People are opting to live in higher density areas for the sake of convenience and location- within close proximity to transport, restaurants – the café culture as it has been called. Our Urban Living Index shows a strong correlation between the most urban/densified suburbs and those with the highest liability ratings.

Australians are opting for a lifestyle of Minimalism - we are 'decluttering' our lives and putting more value on the intangibles like travel. Generation Y aren’t opting for a big home with garages to store all their stuff but more of a focus on the easy-livability of apartment living. Indeed many baby boomers are downsizing from their larger homes in the suburbs to this style of living too.

Renting, as opposed to buying, what some of the benefits?

The ability to change locations easily is well regarded – the average Australian renter stays just 1.8 years per home. Our research shows that 1 in 3 renters are actually 'choice renters' and they choose to rent for lifestyle reasons, not primarily for affordability reasons. These choice renters are twice more likely to be living in medium and high density housing than the average Australian and they are almost 10 years younger than the average Australian. The ability to upsize and downsize easily and the flexibility to travel for extended periods of time is a driver for them. ‘Rentvesting’ is also becoming a ‘thing’. This is where people choose to rent in an area they like, but buy somewhere more affordable and use this as an investment

Generation Y are struggling to attain the Great Australian Dream – are they going to be ok?

There is a challenge emerging of "generational inequity" as shown by this infographic:

Gen Y’s have the least wealth of the working generations and their proportion of Australia’s wealth is less than half their demographic share, while the Baby Boomers who are a quarter of the population, own more than half of Australia’s wealth. (More information on this topic can be found here)

This is why Gen Y is reinventing the Aussie Dream and while they do still like the idea of owning something of their own, it is not just the big home with the back yard in the suburbs. But many in this generation will be absolutely fine thanks to the massive intergenerational wealth transfer set to happen in the next 20 years as those aged over 65 transfer much of their total wealth of $2.5 trillion.

Australia's Household Income and Wealth Distribution

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Land of the middle class?

Australia has long been labelled the land of the middle class but the latest analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics wealth and income data shows that this is less the case today.

Household income by quintiles

This infographic of annual household income by quintiles (20% categories, each comprising around 2 million of Australia’s 10 million households) shows the spread of total earnings. While the average household annually earns just over $107,000, the top 1 in 5 earns more than twice this (exceeding $260,000) while the bottom 1 in 5 takes home around one-fifth of this (a little over $22,000). This means that while the bottom fifth of households get 4% of all income, the top fifth get almost half of all earnings (49%).

Highest fifth have incomes 12 times the lowest fifth

The top quintile in gross terms earn almost as much as the other 80% of households combined. In ratio form, the highest quintile households average 12 times the average bottom quintile income.

Gini coefficient shows growing income divides

The Gini coefficient is a measure of income spread, with 0 being perfect equality and 1 being total inequality. The latest data shows that it is now at its highest (most unequal) level ever at 0.446 compared to 0.417 in the mid 1990’s. In the 20 years since, average household gross incomes have increased 60% from $66,196 to $107,276 today while over the same period, incomes of the top 1 in 5 households (highest quintile) have increased by 74% from $149,552 to $260,104.

Highest earners also had highest income growth

In the decade since 2005-06, most of the household categories have seen income increases of 18-19% with an average increase of 24% ($20,956 increase from $86,320 to the current $107,276) while the highest quintile has enjoyed income increases of 30% ($60,528 higher than a decade ago, up from $199,576 to $260,104).

Household wealth by quintile

Accumulated earnings are best represented by net wealth, and this is where the changing economic landscape is even more dramatically presented. While the average Australian household has net wealth of $809,900, the highest quintile household on average has a net wealth more than three times this ($2,514,400) while the lowest quintile household wealth is just a fraction of this (4% of the average wealth, or $35,500). The lowest 20% of Australian households own less than 1% (0.9%) of the national private wealth while the highest 20% own 62% of the national private wealth.

Wealthiest 20% own 71 times that of the lowest 20%

The wealth of the highest quintile households on average is 71 times that of the lowest quintile households. While the average Australian household has seen wealth increase by 6% in the last 2 years (an increase of $45,400), the highest fifth of households have averaged increases of 8% (an increase of $189,500). Only upon reaching the fourth of five quintiles does the average household net wealth ($830,600) exceed the average house price ($720,000), while the highest quintile households on average have a net worth exceeding 3 average Australian homes.

Wealthy have net worth many multiples of income

The net wealth of the lowest quintile is just 1.6 times annual income, for the average household wealth is 7.5 times incomes while for the highest quintile, their wealth is almost 10 their average annual income, and more than 23 times the average Australian household annual income.

Homes of the Future: Mark McCrindle discusses housing trends

Thursday, June 16, 2016

What is shaping our built environment?

The first is population growth. Australia has just reached 24 million which means we have added an extra million people in less than 3 years, and most of this growth is in our larger capital cities. This is creating a shift from suburban to urban living; from the traditional horizontal communities to the new vertical ones. In our largest capital cities, two-thirds of all new housing approvals are high or medium density rather than detached homes. This densification is creating walkable communities, multi-use areas where people live, work and play in a more localised space, and of course increased access to transit and transport hubs. The other factor shaping developments is affordability. With rising house prices, Australians are looking for financially sustainable options which meet the needs of both lifestyle and affordability, and create the flexibility for our homes to change in tune with our needs and lifestyles.

What are the current trends and will they last?

While design trends come and go with the changing fashions, there are some broader development trends that are here to stay. The increased access to open spaces, in-door out-door areas, balconies, natural light and bringing vegetation into urban environments are all timeless trends that resonates with our temperate climate and needs. Similarly, with food central to our social environment, open-plan kitchens and meal areas in homes and open social spaces in offices are trends we will see continue.

How is technology affecting it?

Today’s technology is seamlessly integrated into our lives, and we are seeing the same seamless integration into our homes. The internet of things means that lighting, sound, temperature, entertainment and security in our domestic environments are all manageable through our personal devices. The decade ahead will see our pantries and fridges talk to our devices to update shopping lists, our home entertainment experience continue playing seamlessly on our portable devices and our hydrogen cars help power our homes.

Image source: The Clipsal Smart Home range (courtesy of

What are the demographic trends?

Homes of the future will have the flexibility to accommodate multiple generations living under the one roof. They will meet the changing needs of a more culturally diverse community and have clever innovations to facilitate support to Australians living independently in their homes to a much older age than we currently see.

What does the future hold?

While Generation Z, who are just starting their careers, will have to pay more for their homes in the future, these buildings and the built environment in which they sit will far exceed what their parents experienced in their first homes. Not only will the technologies and fittings in the home be exciting but the community spaces, café culture and neighbourhood amenities will continue to adjust and adapt to meet the lifestyle expectations of the 21st Century generations.

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


ACF January 26th grave decision mccrindle research entrepreneurial EFF business index shbc vegemite property price cartodb fears marriage global generations Lower Hunter Region narcissism speakers pack social researcher Jura Coffee Myth overcast hornsby lalor park 2013 identity trends of 2016 cultural diversity sentiments gender DIY ideas community finance shopping centre data visualisation publication the australian dream "know the times" trends of 2017 state future proofing focus group education future logan Assistant Store Manager Black Friday Sales travel World Water Day the hills facts Northern Beaches Christian School speajer workshop ABS Queensland social issues huffington post authenticity ferry demographic trends aged care puzzle rain millenials speakers cancelling event survey who is generation z high school monarchy students entrepreneur holidays leadership workshop education tuesday suburban living employment Sydney Hills Business Chamber communication hobart non profit tertiary education HSC urban ACF 2016 eliane miles Australian demographics South Australia jobs of the future workplace VIC summer proactive Real Estate Institute of Victoria happiness Jura Australia future proof baby names Social Trend New Zeland earn storytelling hunger office mentor vegetarian australians staying home more dessert 1980 baby boomers teaching 1968 infographics bus christian money goals The ABC of XYZ REIV National Conference VET volunteering world cancel plans parents changing face of sydney 1975 NT Western Australia friends list local charities baby names australia report group session urban living demographic transformations slideshare learn ethnography teach university degree royal baby census data intern economic australia Tuesday Trend online shopping forum affordable innovation paying to work seasons greetings communicate McCridle shifts mother's day entrepreneurs of today the average aussie financial fears social commentator generation Z demography education research outsourcing New South Wales SMSF February 16 surname Christmas in Australia social shifts schools students skills property australian communities forum clothing Births growth results gen z Adelaide census 2016 data analyst Word Up teleworking Work place leadersip CBD meals long weekend ACT contiki insight rule keeper thought leadership capital city mccrindle in the media thrive cancelling plans Gen Y parenting mateship events ease of travel 2014 aussie culture Netflix grandparents FPA trends analyst priorities sector Research Director house price rise micro demographer conferences holiday Christmas season politics litter Merry Christmas earning brands hills shire new office insights house prices car mining boom volunteering data waverton home award Valentine’s Day Sydney Lifestyle Study small business Tuesday Trends typical australian apartment media culture speaker responsive royal influence high density living future of education investor retirement sydney event ACT Report fresh faux-cilising prince george commute internet professional development culturally diverse organisational culture tattoos English Duchess of Cambridge ashley fell medicine Northern beaches Event mythbusting challenge generational trends Res Vis faith school satisfaction surnames train Northern Territory office space Australian Census daily telegraph curiosity winter blues hello fresh equip households infographic System's Architect population milestone FOMO safe trend tuesday commuting Scouts analysis showreel digital economy shopper's pick Wodonga kate middleton christmas 2017 residents weekly earnings father's day business learner Christmas day weather Aussies google for education technology young people socialites wedding social change ACF2017 survey design consumer lifestyle future of shopping volunteer life society trends world youth day ACF17 TEDx Speaker friendship potts point research report Australian Home relevant baby name trends wolloomooloo townhouses product salary emerging generations IT Specialists Australian Bureau of Statistics interactive learning styles SRE wealth inequality data keynote tv CPI supply and demand cica resource media commentary in the media public holiday Hills Shire Council high density apartments deloitte environment Vocational education ageing affordability dreams financial dreams educated growth of sydney ashley mckenzie not-for-profit food insecurity Christmas research financial planning REIV Conference Sydney population emerging technologies energy moreton bay social media spend trades stay home gig statistics eliane digital 2016 census results Australian Communities Trends NBRS manly Andrew Duffin mccrinlde Retail Gen X research on coffee Christchurch 10 years Tasmania researcher wealth dare to dream workforce TDE repayments national private wealth engage criminal anzac employers Australian Families the lucky country education sector baby shopping urban living index staff real home ownership australian WA christmas low density leadership Kiwi TED talk public transport research visualisation wealth and income Wellington social researchers JOMO norwest Aussie families meetings panel resilience housing trends pyrmont 2016 Skilling organisations keynote speaker cooking christianity baby names report trend housing market cultural diveristy marriages environmental scanning maiden names investing dream wellbeing 1994 selfie 2017 23 million rich marketing income qualitative research balance mccrindle religion Australian community trends alpha communities Hornsby Shire Council Elderslie-Harrington park brand visualisation cash wealth distribution NBRS Architecture demographics 2020 learning TAS collaboration student population child care Wagga Wagga professional buildings SMART sydney property market gen alpha presentations leader care support brisbane youth bondi future purpose geomapping community engagement Melbourne states investment sunburnt country hopes Deaths not for profit marrickville office opening group Mount Annan-Currant Hill blaxland Charlotte commuters PSI generation alpha plans global financial crisis TEDx donate nfp property development capital cities social life professional speaker 2015 charity social participants employmer millionth tips Australia Day gold coast Sydney keynote speaker McCrindle Speakers offenders innovative case study average Australian breakfast Macquarie University Queensland: QLD business performance quote university public speaker Geoff Brailey cold food bank poker master work engagement TED community event Channel 7 Crime Rates housing growth gig economy social lives debate victoria visual Territory Research Executive Mark McCrindle children emerging trends etiquette women goal average sydneysider research pack national wealth media release choice workers neutral bay household rent optus mythbusters cost village unemployment internship New Zealand hills increasing densification McCrindle Keynote Speakers family 2012 presentation volunteers event population growth census fail professional services study renter of the future ultimo travelling perth urban development happy holidays NSW dreaming nativity scene experience news career story Financial Planning Week divorce transport personalities staying in social impact youth unemployment government easter demographic greatness baby name Christmas presents financial independence future of work ipswich renting media activity millennials Willowdale social trends social research not for profit research conference speaker earnings optimistic middle class teachers What is food insecurity? sector wide study national crime rates teacher employmee city Business analysis pharmacy tableau DESTEL megatrends entertainment graphs brand experience healthy future Australia street pharmacies Financial Planning Association of Australia donation rental stress Cobbitty-Leppington social commentary communications Do It Yourself Australian Population census results change work-life social analyst Australian Trends Channel Seven google sydneycity cost of living men Christmas lunch conference presentation poor forecasting Australians post rationalism HR research services easy rider spirituality mccrindle tea mover and shaker housing careers Black Friday Generation X networking property market VET sector water education future report focus groups Australian schools local communities Maxim Accounting mortgage sector wide report jobs optus my business awards wage princess charlotte wealth and income distribution generations sun chairty Generation Y futurist budget social enquiry suburbs casual 24 million land of the middle class sydneysider mobile toys collaborative cars live the dream wages James Ward sydney market define growing population Mark McCrindle in the media public speaking Kirsten Brewer program follow 2016 census maiden Bathburst coffee lovers rise of local ageing population sydney hills Real Estate conference suburb moderators guide local community global retail younger generations australian community trends report global screenagers socialising population map relational acf15 weather Black Friday in Australia Christmas data living in depth interviews new york times Royals video Lower Hunter australian real estate financial year 7 personal growth micro apartments sustainable Caregiver couple sydney metro crime Sydney’s south west high density names Population Clock builders Australian Dream educhat sports impact Gen Z Expert debt daily commute faux-ciliser Engineering Manager the hills shire christmas trees market research Christmas day Hunter Valley Australian communities McCrindle Speaker house price rising house prices bureau #censusfail US aged care royal family internships forecast young australians social analysis school divorce rate the changing face of crows nest housing affordability menai professional presenters Northern Beaches sydney speaker recap research coffee going out school students owning a home work mates the great screenage celebration Australia Day 2017 society 40 million future-proof twentyseventeen royal average aussie food census customer award winner newspaper baby boom church do people still change their surname after marriage? sunny days home owner generation trends workplace culture tea house language Love area year 12 snapshot online research data Education Future Forum SA Financial Planning Association motivate darwin know the times baby name predictions infographic wall australian social research woolworths faux-cilise 24,000,000 work from home screenage NEETs annual income The Daily Edition apartments domestic training sydneysiders Sydney NFP event consumerism stats Canberra australian communities trends report economy urban taskforce giving schools GPO belief winter Christmas Stats unaffordable cloudy days Performance Sentiment Index omnibus financial future click seasons