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. 


Australian Census 2016; What you need to know

Monday, August 08, 2016

As demographers and social researchers there are a few calendar events that cause for celebration. Among them include population milestones, special data set releases and, of course, the Census. Rolling around only every 5 years, the Census provides us all with vital information about our nation’s population growth, infrastructure and future-planning needs.

In 2016 the Census will be held tomorrow, Tuesday 9th August. It has been conducted every 5 years since 1911, and is the biggest democratic activity in Australia. While July’s election counted 14 million votes, the 2016 Census will include every household, age group, resident and visitor – all 24 million of us.

So here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming 2016 Census.

2 IN 3 AUSSIES WILL COMPLETE THE CENSUS ONLINE

This will be the most unique Census Australia has ever seen. In keeping with these technological times, 2 in 3 people will complete their form online, up from just 1 in 3 in 2011 and 1 in 10 back in 2006 (the first time there was an electronic option).

SHOWCASING OUR POPULATION MILESTONES

Firstly, the Census will show that our national population is growing, having hit a new record in February of this year and surpassing a population of 24 million people. Additionally, it will also show that Australia’s largest city – Sydney, has broken through the 5 million milestone.

Not only will the Census show that our population is growing, but also that we are ageing. Our population profile will no longer be a “population pyramid”, because for the first time there will be more Australians aged over 55 than under 20.

So the Census will show that our population is growing, ageing and as a result, it will show that we are moving. For the first time this Census will reveal that one in four Australian households live in townhouses or apartments rather than detached houses – the highest figure ever, up from just one in ten in 1966.

IMPORTANT QUESTION CHANGES TO THIS YEAR’S CENSUS

This year there will be a change to the religion question with the option of “No religion” now appearing at the top of that question rather than at the bottom, so it might attract some more numbers.

Additionally the question asked of women: “How many babies has she ever given birth to” states “live births only”, but will now include stillbirths and give acknowledgement of that loss And the question: “Is the person male or female” - will allow an alternative blank box for those who identify with neither gender.

PARTICPATION IN THE CENSUS IS COMPULSORY

Like participating in the election, it is compulsory to complete the Census. But for everyone in the country, not just citizens or residents. The Census and Statistics Act takes sitting the Census very seriously, with fines for non-completion after receiving an order to complete incurring a fine of $180 per day, and false answers can attract a fine of $1800.

But the good news is that the Act takes privacy very seriously as well and answers cannot be divulged by the ABS to anyone – even government agencies. Confidentiality is assured.

CENSUS RESULTS NOT RELEASED UNTIL 2017

If we thought we had to wait a while for the election results, be prepared for a longer wait for the Census findings. It will be analysed at record speed, but that still means a wait of 8 months, April 2017, with the full results not coming out until 2018!

Does Generation Y have it easier than the Baby Boomers?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

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 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.

Our Research Director, Eliane Miles, chats to Tony Delroy from ABC Nightlife about the future of Generation Y and whether we need to stop giving Gen Y a hard time.

Eliane, can you compare the wealth of the baby boomers at 25, to Gen Y at the same age – what story do the figures tell?

Well earnings have certainly increased, with average annual full-time salary in 1984 at $19,000 compared to $80,000 today. However houses were also cheaper, with the average price of a residential property costing just $64,000 compared to more than 10 times that across the nation today. In 1975, the median house price was just 5 times the average full-time earnings, but in 1996 this increased to 6 times and today it currently sits at 13 times! Property was cheap, and while it was more difficult to borrow, Baby Boomers were raised with a saving mindset so made the most of their hard work.

There has been a stereotype of Generation Y being demanding in the workplace, not being prepared to put in the hard yards at the bottom of the rung, of not holding loyalty towards employers – to what extent do you think any of those stereotypes ring true?

These stereotypes are the same stereotypes that were made 15 years ago towards Gen X. That somehow the economic mishaps of Gen Y are their own moral failure (lazy, expect too much, spend too much time on social endeavours). Yet there’s a lot of other factors at play and it’s not entirely bad. They’re not locking into a job the same way as their parents (average tenure is 2 years and 8 months for Gen Y compared to 6 years and 8 months for Baby Boomers) but it’s not all bad. Enduring education longer, staying at home longer, the reality of formal education and global connectedness means they’re more equipped and resourced to collaborate in the 21st century, more able to engage in a diverse workforce and lead in collaborative ways.

The fact that Gen Y’s value work-life balance is a good thing, they are less likely to get burned out, more relatable to life, not just saving their leave for one day in retirement but bringing life. Older generations bring experience and structured thinking, younger generations bring innovation, 21st century education, and greater cultural diversity to the working world.

Eliane, do you think there are certain expectations that Gen Y grew up with that they’re suddenly wondering if they’re actually going to happen?

Yes certainly. Gen Y’s saw the miracle wealth accumulation that their Baby Boomer parents had, and expect to start their economic lives in the same way their parents are ending theirs. Now, there’s a realisation that all of the factors that set up the Baby Boomer generation probably won’t be on-side for Gen Y. They’ve dreamt of having it all – the house, the car, the annual overseas trips, the dining out … but the reality of what they’ve been handed is that one or perhaps more of those things need to go.

How was the economic environment different for young baby boomers compared to young Generation Y’s?

Baby Boomers were handed a series of fortunate events. Rather than looking at income in the mid-20s let’s compare the two environments in which they became wealth accumulators.

Firstly, the path begins with their birth (1946-1964), a period of time or remarkable economic development after WW2 (post-war rations, high rate of savings). Beliefs about what the government should provide (health care, education, unemployment, and tax benefits) have reflected the priorities of this generation and the environment that they were raised in.

Then they benefited from the good economic times in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as they were already in the property market. Baby Boomers had a 27 year period of uninterrupted economic boom (from the recession in the early 1990s to 2008) which is likely to be unprecedented and never again seen among Australians of any generation.

Now the tables have turned.

Gen Y didn’t get access to free education, cheap rent while saving or union-protected and secure jobs. Young people today have little prospect of owning a home, so consumer spending improves their quality of life. Baby Boomers have a larger share of the pie while Gen Y, nor any other generation following the Baby Boomers for that matter, will reach a similar landmark. They benefited from advantageous tax systems and modest taxes. Their generation thrived in a unique, economic miracle.

But it’s not all bad news for Gen Y.

Australia is one of the few wealthy countries which has seen disposable income growth be higher for those aged 25-29 than those aged 65-69, with 27% growth compared with 14% growth between 1985 and 2010.

When it comes to homeownership amongst Gen Y members, how do they compare to the generations before them at a similar age?

In 1981, 61% of those aged 25-34 owned their own home and in 2011, this figure had dropped to 47% of those in the same age bracket. Across the board (not just in the younger years) we’ve seen a decline in home ownership. 20 years ago, 42% of Australians owned their home outright, which has decreased to less than 30% today. Furthermore, just 26% were renting, which has grown to almost a third today (31%).

So why this decline? This can be attributed to the emergence of single-person and single-parent households, the growing gap between house prices and average weekly earnings and tax concessions to owner occupiers. With government policies being geared towards home ownership, this means that Gen Y’s who start their earning lives later risk spending more of their income on housing costs when they retire.

Let’s set the crystal ball 50 years into the future – Eliane what do you see for Gen Y in 2066?

Demographically, Australia’s population will certainly have grown – Australia will have over 40 million people, Sydney over 8.4 million and Melbourne 8.5 million, having overtaken Sydney as Australia’s largest city by 2056. Migration will continue to drive growth, and with increasing cultural diversity and greater influence from Asia, the population growth will continue to drive house prices upwards.

Australia’s population will also be ageing. 58% of the population will be in their 50s or older in 2066, one quarter will be over 65 and 1 in 6 will be over 75. In a nutshell, there will be more people aged over 60 than under 20.

And lastly, we will have changed a lot in that time as well. In 2066 Gen Y’s will be aged 72 to 86, and Gen Z’s (those now aged 7-21), of whom there are already 4.43 million in Australia (comprising 18% of the population), will be nearing their retirement years (57 to 71). So by 2066 we’ll have seen 3 more generations emerge after Gen Alpha and we can be sure that these individuals will be shaped in completely different times.

ABOUT ELIANE MILES

Eliane Miles is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a data analyst she understands the power of big data to inform strategic direction. Managing research across multiple sectors and locations, she is well positioned to understand the mega trends transforming the workplace, household and consumer landscapes. Her expertise is in telling the story embedded in the data and communicating the insights in visual and practical ways.

From the key demographic transformations such as population growth and the ageing workforce to social trends such as changing household structures and emerging lifestyle expectations, from generational change to the impact of technology, Eliane delivers research based presentations dealing with the big global and national trends.

With academic qualifications in community engagement and postgraduate studies in international development and global health, Eliane brings robust, research-based content to her engaging presentations and consulting. As a social researcher, she has been interviewed on these topics on prominent television programs such as National Nine News and Today, as well as on radio and in online media.

DOWNLOAD ELIANE'S SPEAKERS PACK HERE

To have Eliane present at your next event, please feel free to get in touch via email to ashley@mccrindle.com.au or call through to 02 8824 3422

Lifestyle trends & property market – Mark McCrindle interview

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Social Researcher, Mark McCrindle chats to Kevin Turner about some of the lifestyle trends and their impact on where and how we live and the obvious impact on property.

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

Kevin: You might recall a couple of weeks ago, I chatted to Mark McCrindle and we were talking about the Urban Living Index. Mark joins me once again. Good morning, Mark.

Mark: Good morning, Kevin. Great to be with you.

Kevin: Thanks again for your time. Mark, a very interesting conversation we had a couple of weeks ago on the show about the Urban Living Index. I wanted to come back and discuss that with you again.

Just a bit of fun now, Mark. Let’s have a look at some of the lifestyle trends that we’re expecting to see this year, 2016.

Mark: Probably one of those is just how we work. We’re continually seeing changes in our lifestyles. We’ve seen teleworking. People work a bit more from home. People work through technology. We see even the new developments now where you have mixed planning. You have residential nearby to business parks or offices, and of course, retail in the mix of that. People want to work and live and play and connect in a community, in an environment where they don’t separate each of those.

One of the trends we’re predicting for 2016, we call it power working, which is the work equivalent of power napping. Power napping is where you sleep in non-traditional times and places. You just have a quick zap. Power working’s a bit like that. We get people now working more on their commute. They’re working in cafes. They’re working before or after work, sometimes in front of another screen, even unwinding at night. Work is not just a nine to five, you’re at the desk, in the workplace phenomena anymore; it’s changed. With apps and devices and technologies and the expectation of quicker response times from clients, we’re going to see continual changes in what work looks like and where it’s done from.

Kevin: Mark, of course, with so many people concentrated, living on the eastern seaboard in our major capital cities, I guess that type of lifestyle change is going to encourage more people to move into some of those regional areas, which will probably have an impact on prices there, do you think?

Mark: That’s right. We’re certainly seeing growth in the regional market because they’re being priced out of the cities, and the price rises in our capitals have been pretty crazy. People are saying, look, the regions are not isolated anymore. You have great lifestyle. You have excellent affordability. Of course, the technology, the infrastructure out there is fantastic.

You can get out of the rat race of the city, take a bit of a breather on the mortgage, get some pretty nice lifestyle for what you get out of that house from the city, and of course, the kids have some good schools. Again, the cafe lifestyle and the technology, even running a small business working from home, all of that is possible pretty much anywhere in Australia now, not just in the cities alone.

Kevin: Mark is one of the authors of the Urban Living Index, which we mentioned. I might just touch on that if I may. By the way, the website for that is UrbanLivingIndex.com. A great report. Mark, it pretty much focused on Sydney, but one of the interesting points I noticed is that the high density living in Sydney seems to be increasing. If you look at detached housing around Australia, I think the percentages are lower in Sydney. Are more people preferring to live in more high-density areas?

Mark: Yes, that’s correct. There’s this little demographic measure called the center of population of a city, which is the point in the city where in the whole catchment of the city where you have as many people west as east, as many people north as south. Now, in our eastern capitals, that center of population was continually heading west because the urban sprawls were heading further and further west. Interestingly, in Sydney – and we’re going to see the same thing in the Brisbane market – it stopped; it’s not heading further west. That’s because for each new housing development that is taking place in the urban sprawl further out, you have an infield development, a densification development to the east of that center.

It’s interesting that it seems as if the center of population, the sprawl is slowing because people are now opting for those densified living options. That is because of the location. They don’t want to travel further and further into the city or into the lifestyle areas on those motorways or public transport. At some point, it’s so far out that they say, “You know what? I think I’ll opt for a different style of living, a vertical option rather than just that house with the block out the back.”

Kevin: Yes, if you look at the map that’s on the UrbanLivingIndex.com website, if you look at the spread of the population, I wonder what sort of story it tells between that northern part of Sydney up to Newcastle and the southern part going down to Wollongong as to whether we’re going to see in-fill there. You’re right. You can see it looks almost out of proportion moving out toward the west.

Mark: That’s right. In Sydney’s market, we are now seeing growth in the northwest corridor and the southwest corridor. In other words, where they’re putting in some infrastructure, now we have some metro, some rail lines going, both of those arteries, which really had been devoid of some rail, that is creating some great opportunities and some densification there.

Now in Sydney, we have not just the built-up areas within ten or 15 kilometers of the CBD itself, but now 20 or 30 kilometers away from the CBD, you have these hot spots of densification. You have these 10-, 15-, and now on the plans 20-story residential towers that are around these transport hubs, these interchanges, that are obviously a fair way from the city, but because the shopping centers, the transport hubs, the availability of accommodation, and of course, café lifestyle that goes with that, we’re getting a lot more people opting for that sort of living. In a sense, Sydney becomes a city of cities, and we’re going to see that with all of our 2,000,000+ capitals across Australia.

Kevin: I’ll get you back to talk more about that in some future shows, too, Mark, but I want to thank you for making your time available today. The two websites for Mark are, of course, the UrbanLivingIndex.com website we just mentioned, and there is another one, too, that’s simply called McCrindle.com.au.

Mark, thank you so much for your time.

Mark: You’re very welcome. Thanks, Kevin.

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

ABOUT MARK MCCRINDLE

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.


DOWNLOAD MARK'S SPEAKING PACK HERE

Australia at 12 vs 24 million

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Australia’s population will soar to 24 million this year, but what exactly did the country look like when the population was half that? The year was 1968 – John Gorton was Prime Minister, our soldiers were still in Vietnam and it was the year that Kylie Minogue and Hugh Jackman were born.

But since then Australia’s population has sky rocketed. The population has doubled since 1968. We had just hit 12 million back then, and next month we will hit 24 million people nationally. In fact 1 in 3 Aussies have seen the population double in their lifetime.

The rate of marriages has dropped by over 40% since then, and in 1968 the average woman had 2.34 babies, compared to today’s 1.8.

Weekly earnings have also increased over the last 48 years. If we go back to 1968, the average hourly rate was $1.22, and that meant that the weekly wage was about $48.00 per week. Comparatively, today’s average earnings – if you put it in annual terms – is about $88,000 per year.

While wages have risen so too has the cost of living, and owning your own home is now 5 times more expensive than it was 48 years ago. Back in 1968 the average Sydney home would set you back $18,000, compared to the average Sydney median house price of $1 million today.

But the good news is that milk, butter and potatoes all cost less today. A litre of milk back then was 19 cents, in today’s dollars that’s actually $2.00, which is more expensive than a litre of milk today which is about $1.25.



ABOUT MARK MCCRINDLE

Mark McCrindle is a social researcher with an international following. He is recognised as a leader in tracking emerging issues and researching social trends. As an award winning social researcher and an engaging public speaker, Mark has appeared across many television networks and other media. He is a best-selling author, an influential thought leader, TEDx speaker and Principal of McCrindle Research. His advisory, communications and research company, McCrindle, count among its clients more than 100 of Australia’s largest companies and leading international brands.

DOWNLOAD MARK'S SPEAKING PACK HERE

The Optus Renter of the Future Report

Monday, January 11, 2016

We were delighted to have been commissioned by Optus to uncover the attitudes, behaviours and technology trends of Australian renters, to develop the Renter of the Future Report. This national research has been launched in partnership with Optus and their Home Wireless Broadband Internet offering, and revealed some interesting insights into who is renting, what defines their situation and what they are looking for in a rental property.

The report highlights that 3 in 10 renters are 'choice renters'. “There’s this idea that the great Aussie dream is to move into a home that you own and if you haven’t done that then the dream hasn’t come true for you. But with generational change that’s just not true. You’ve got a lot of people who are the choice renters because they prefer the lifestyle. And they themselves might be landlords so financially they’re rocketing ahead." - Mark McCrindle.

30% of Australians rent - that's more than own their own home outright and they are twice as likely to be living in medium and high density housing than the average Australian, are almost years younger, and move much more frequently - on average every 1.8 years.

Renters are also tech-savvy, the study showed. “Renters comprise nearly a third of Australian households. For the modern Aussie renter technology underpins and has become completely fused with their lifestyle. This group is among the first to jump onto new technologies, keeping abreast of the latest trends and, where possible, the latest devices. Accessing the internet quickly from their new rental property is a must for them." - Mark McCrindle.

Highlighting the lifestyle aspects that Australians renters seek, the top 3 best things they like about renting are:

  1. The ability to change locations easily (38%)
  2. Easier to upsize or downsize as needed (24%)
  3. Flexibility to travel for extended periods of time (18%)

When asked to list their top five lifestyle features in a home, Aussies revealed what is most important to them in a rental property:

  1. Parking (38%)
  2. Pet-friendly (32%)
  3. Cable internet (31%)
  4. A strong mobile signal (25%)
  5. Number of power points in a room (22%)

Find out more about the findings of the study in the below infographic:


This research in the media


Hooray for the Urban Living Index: A new evidence base to help urban planners & policy makers

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The co-authors of the newly developed Urban Living Index – The Urban Taskforce and McCrindle Research – rightly state that the challenge in planning for Sydney’s future is to ensure that population growth does not compromise its “world-beating lifestyle”. By tracking five key categories that produce a measure of liveability in a city, the Index is a great first step in developing an evidence base to monitoring changes as the Sydney metropolitan area as it grows – both outwards and upwards.

A key theme in most media reporting about the Index is that upwards growth – through increased residential density – is the way to ensure high levels of amenity and accessibility are maintained as Sydney grows, and that a reliance on outwards expansion may compromise such liveability standards. Although the Index broadly shows that denser residential areas rate highly from a liveability perspective, we need to dig a bit deeper to understand what it is about these areas that make them liveable. It is not just a case of these highly rated areas being dense, which is actually just a relative measure of compactness. There are many more factors at play than compactness in making a place liveable and sustainable.

The structure of the overall city, with its public transport and road network and its layout of employment and retail locations, influences transport choice more than most other factors. At the local level, good walking and cycling connectivity to local shopping and public transport services is the key to how we move around. Of course, there is also the influence that individual behaviours, intentions and beliefs have on how a community might inhabit and use places and spaces. Density also plays a role, especially population density, as this helps underpin social and economic sustainability in local areas. But density is not the end game – far from it.

For example, the Index shows that Marrickville has a relatively low high density component for an inner city area (40%) but a very high liveability ranking. On the other hand, Woollahra has a higher high density component (50%) but a relatively low liveability ranking for an inner urban area. If one interrogates the rankings, you’ll see that Marrickville ranks highest for accessibility (which considers the factors I mention above), whereas Woollahra has a relatively low ranking for accessibility. This example, and there are many others across the metropolitan region, shows that higher density areas do not necessarily guarantee higher levels of accessibility.

The upshot of policy makers and planners thinking that increased density inevitably produces more liveable and sustainable urban areas has resulted in, until recently, a saturation of multi-level apartment construction in infill areas. And some of these areas have been bereft of the factors that the Index shows achieves high levels of amenity: within walking distance to rail or priority light rail and bus routes that connect to employment locations; within walking distance to a plentiful supply of local shops and services; well-connected and safe walking and cycling routes; and a range of different residential options that help create a vibrant social mix of different family types.

I think the Index helpfully shows that density is just part of the story. The Index is comprised of twenty separate measures- and many of these are not at all reliant on densification. As I’ve shown above, we cannot simply assume that areas of high density automatically generate liveable and sustainable outcomes. There are simply too many factors at play to make this conclusion.

Dr Michael Grosvenor, Principal MGC

An event recap of the Urban Living Index launch

Monday, December 14, 2015

It was a privilege for two of our team, Mark McCrindle and Annie Phillips to attend and present at Urban Taskforce’s launch of the Urban Living Index on Thursday 10th December.

The event was an opportunity to showcase the Urban Living Index and how it can be best utilised as Sydney continues to grow and increase in densification.

The Urban Living Index

Earlier this year we had the opportunity to develop The Urban Living Index, which is going to be used as an ongoing measure for the liveability of suburbs in Sydney. This instrument considers the affordability, community, employability, amenity and accessibility of an area to determine how liveable it is. The challenge for Sydney’s future is to ensure that it responds to population growth yet maintains its world-beating lifestyle and that its liveability rises to match its increasing density. While a city can always improve, the results of the Index show that the city planning and unit development are creating thriving urban communities, as evidenced by the results that show superior liveability in high density Sydney suburbs.


To read the full report, visit the Urban Living Index website here.





Sydney’s most liveable suburbs

Crows Nest-Waverton
Surry Hills
Pyrmont-Ultimo
Marrickville
Potts Point – Woolloomooloo

In the media




Sydney Morning Herald - Measuring urban living across Sydney








Sydney's most liveable suburbs: The urban living index

Thursday, November 19, 2015

With Sydney’s population set to reach 5 million next year, there are significant densification trends underway. Sydneysiders are increasingly embracing medium and high density housing, 7 in 10 either have lived in a unit/apartment or are currently living in one. Of Sydneysiders who have never lived in a high density setting, 50% would consider unit/apartment living and this rises to 63% for Generation Y.

“Over the last decade there has been a big swing in Sydney to more urban living generally in apartments. To gain a clearer understanding of urban living patterns and satisfaction Urban Taskforce Australia commissioned McCrindle, experts in researching demographic data to develop the Urban Living Index.”, said Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson.

Mark McCrindle, Principal of McCrindle Research says, “The challenge for Sydney’s future is to ensure that it responds to population growth yet maintains its world-beating lifestyle and that its liveability rises to match its increasing density, and that is why we have developed the Urban Living Index.”

CHECK OUT THE URBAN LIVING INDEX WEBSITE HERE, TO DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT

Measuring the liveability of areas across Sydney

The Urban Living Index is an ongoing measure of the liveability of suburbs in Sydney. This instrument considers the affordability, community, employability, amenity and accessibility of an area to determine how liveable it is.

The Planning Regions of Sydney

The NSW Planning Regions were developed by the NSW government to allow for cohesive and integrated planning under A Plan for Growing Sydney. Exploring the Index across the six regions assists in understanding how they are equipped to respond to a high density population and where there are opportunities for improvement in the quality of urban living.

Sydney’s most liveable suburbs

This analysis of Sydney’s 228 suburbs shows that Surry Hills and Crows Nest - Waverton are Sydney’s leaders with the top rated Index of 85. In the Central planning region after Surry Hills was Marrickville with 83, in the North it was North Sydney – Lavender Bay with 82, West Central was Parramatta – Rosehill 80 followed by North Parramatta 75, South was Hurstville 76 followed by South Hurstville – Blakehurst 74, South West was Liverpool – Warwick Farm 66 followed by Cabramatta – Lansvale and West was Springwood – Winmalee 59 followed by Blaxland – Warrimoo – Lapstone 59. The results show a strong correlation between high density housing and urban liveability with seven of the top ten rated suburbs in the top twenty highest density suburbs in Sydney.

Sentiment toward housing affordability

One of the key drivers of the growth in high density housing is Sydney’s housing affordability challenge. When Sydneysiders were asked if they had to start over and buy into the current property market, more than 3 in 5 (61%) of Sydneysiders would probably or definitely be unable to do so. Sydneysiders are also not convinced that the affordability challenge will change with 51% saying that in three years’ time their area will be less affordable than it is today, and only 11% saying it will be more affordable. This is even higher in the West planning region where 56% say it will be less affordable. It is also higher amongst Generation Y (56%) than Baby Boomers (47%). More than half of all Sydneysiders (59%) say that Sydney’s housing affordability is a massive challenge for their children’s generation with an additional 29% saying it is a significant challenge.

More than half of all Sydneysiders (57%) state that the construction of units and apartments assists affordability. More than a third of Sydneysiders support the idea of allowing first home buyers to access their superannuation to buy a home (37%) and increasing unit/apartment construction (36%) while only 1 in 5 (22%) supports the tightening of bank lending rules as a solution to affordability.

The most valuable assets of Sydneysiders

When it comes to housing, Sydneysiders prioritise the intangibles (location and community) above the tangibles (buildings and fittings) by a factor of 2 to 1. They also prioritise current liveability above long term price growth, also by a factor of 2 to 1 and value walkable communities above more mobile lifestyles by a factor of 6 to 1. Sydneysiders generally like their local community assets such as shops and cafes with more than half (52%) saying they totally love or really like them compared to just 6% who are indifferent to this amenity. Twice as many (32%) believe that amenities in their local community will increase over the next 3 years compared to those who think there will be a decrease (16%). Sydneysiders are also positive about the growing infrastructure, transport and accessibility of their local area, with 37% expecting it to increase over the next three years compared to 14% expecting a decrease.

The Urban Living Index report, interactive maps and further details on Sydney’s six planning regions are all available at www.urbanlivingindex.com. The Urban Living Index results and rankings will be launched at a breakfast event at Clayton Utz, Level 5 1 Bligh Street, Sydney on the 10th December 2015, 7:30am for 8am start. Speakers will be Chris Johnson and Mark McCrindle.


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