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

Housing Affordability in NSW [infographic]

Monday, January 30, 2017

We’ve all heard about the difficulty of buying into the housing market in recent times and the subsequent decreases in home ownership rates (in NSW, from 68% in 2004 to 63% in 2014). With less people able to afford a home in the current market, there have been increases in the numbers of people looking to rent in New South Wales, and particularly Sydney.

We were delighted to be commissioned by Churches Housing and Shelter NSW to uncover the story of rental unaffordability in New South Wales. Through this research, we discovered that finding an available, affordable rental property is becoming increasingly difficult, particularly for those in the bottom 20% of income earners.

The decrease in the availability of rental properties over the last decade or so, has been influenced by a number of factors. Rental prices have increased due to the increased numbers of people looking to rent, and in past decades, rental prices have grown faster than income.

The infographic particularly highlights the difficulties for the bottom 40% of income earners in looking for appropriate rental properties. The term ‘rental stress’ is used to describe those in the bottom 40% who are spending over 30% of their income in housing costs. In 2013-14 NSW had the highest proportion of low income households experiencing rental stress, at 76% (compared to 68% nationally). For these households, rental stress can impact on other areas of life, including health care, schooling, diet and in the worst case can sometimes lead to homelessness. 

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.


What Makes a City the Most Liveable?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What makes a state or city liveable? Is it the low crime rate, affordability, ease of travel or is it simply the weather? We have compared some of the major factors and revealed what Aussies really think.


If you take the average weekly earnings, subtract the average weekly mortgage repayments based on house costs, you find that NSW doesn’t do too well, it is earning 20% above the average, but the houses are 64% above the average, so NSW works out to be the worst in terms of income after housing. But WA is on top of the charts, with the ACT doing pretty well also.

Ease of travel

We took the centre of population of each of our capital cities, the mid-point of the population sprawl where as many people live north, as south of this point, and as many east, as west. From this centre of living we measured the average, non-peak hour driving time to the centre of the CBD marked by the GPO of each capital. We found that as we would probably expect, Sydney was the longest drive, about 33 minutes to get from the centre of population to the centre of the city, but the quickest trip of all was Brisbane with just 8 minutes.

Crime rates

This is the number of offenders per annum, per 100 people and the Territories book end the data here, with the ACT with the lowest crime rate nationally and the Northern Territory as the highest crime rate and the other states right in the middle. As measured by crime rates, the ACT is Australia’s safest place to live.


We measured this by looking at the average number of sunny days - totally clear days in a year. Tasmania not doing too well with a lot of cloudy, overcast days, but WA takes the crown with the most number of sunny days in any given year.

Watch Mark McCrindle's full interview on The Daily Edition here

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


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