The great Australian dream of a house with a backyard is increasingly under threat as high population pressures force the demolition of homes to make way for apartment blocks.
High real estate prices are also turning Sydney homes with backyards into luxuries only the rich are able to afford, with median houses above $1million.
Griffith University lecturer in urban and environmental planning Dr Tony Matthews said population growth was a major threat to Australian backyards, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.
‘Generally, Australian backyards are coming under pressure from developments and that pressure in turn is threatening their viability,’ he told Daily Mail Australia today.
‘We’re building smaller backyards and increasingly building more apartments which have no garden.’
Australia’s net annual immigration pace has hovered above 200,000 a year since 2012, which has forced state and local governments to allow more development on average-sized blocks.
In inner and middle-ring suburbs of Sydney, stretching from the inner-west to the upper North Shore, houses near train stations are increasingly being demolished to make way for apartments or townhouses with small backyards.
Millionaire entrepreneur Dick Smith has recently described apartment living as like being ‘jammed like a termite’ into a high-rise building.
Dr Matthews said this ‘urban consolidation’ was certainly ‘not helping’ Sydney and Melbourne maintain the great Australian dream of a backyard.
‘You have more and more people going into the cities now than we’ve ever had before and what we’re not doing is developing new cities, we’re really just pouring more and more people into the ones we already have,’ he said.
In Sydney, prices for a house with a backyard start at $685,000 in the hard-scrabble suburb of Mount Druitt which is 50km west of the city centre.
That price is also more expensive than Melbourne’s median unit price of $574,000 and with median Sydney house prices well over $1 million, a house with a backyard for barbecues and games of cricket is increasingly becoming a luxury.
A house at Turramurra, 17km from the city centre, comes with a median price tag of $2 million, despite the 30-minute train commute to central Sydney.
‘It’s basically saying, “You can still have those things but only if you can afford them” as opposed to the past, particularly the 20th century, where access to a detached house on a quarter-acre block with your own, big backyard was more or less an attainable ideal for pretty much everyone on most salaries,’ Dr Matthews said.
‘If you want to continue to have the traditional Australian dream, you need to be able to buy into the middle-ring suburbs that were built initially in the post-war era and they’re expensive.’
The lack of high-paying jobs in regional areas means more people with children will have to raise their offspring in big city apartments, unless they are prepared to commute from satellite cities like the Central Coast north of Sydney or Geelong south-west of Melbourne.
‘It’s probably going to lead to more stress and potentially negative health consequences if you’re commuting that far everyday,’ Dr Matthews said.
‘Maybe you’re hoping you can move to a regional area and not commute in which case you’re going to have to be one of the lucky few who manages to find a meaningful, well-paid job.’
Real estate price data group Core Logic said that in the year to the end of May, Sydney’s median house price slumped by 5.9 per cent to $1.020 million as prices in Melbourne rose 1.5 per cent to $821,000.
Australia’s housing market
Apartment prices fell 0.3 per cent in a year to a median price of $749,765
House prices slumped by 5.9 per cent annually to a median level of $1.020m
Apartment prices rose 4.4 per cent in year to May 31 to median of $573,673
House prices increased by 1.5 per cent annually to a median of $821,006
Apartment prices slipped by 0.3 per cent over the year to median of $385,121
House prices up by 1.2 per cent in 12 months to May to median of $536,286
Apartment prices down by 0.5 per cent in the year to a median of $328,878
House prices rose by 0.8 per cent to annually to a median value of $464,459
Apartment prices plunged by 3.2 per cent over year to median of $394,898
House prices slumped by 1.5 per cent in same period to median of $487,762
Apartment values surged by 8.3 per cent to a median price of $353,917
House prices soared by staggering 13.6 per cent to a median of $452,289
Unit prices plunged by awful 11.3 per cent in a year to a median of $328,234
House prices dived by 6.3 per cent annually to a median level of $500,946
Apartment prices slipped by 0.4 per cent in the year to a median of $435,846
House prices rose by 3.1 per cent on annual basis to a median of $678,322
Source: Core Logic Home Value Index released on June 1, 2018
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