Young professionals and retirees are increasingly opting for inner-city apartments over suburban houses. And this emerging market of owner-occupiers is influencing the way developers design new high-rise housing.
Southbank’s Australia 108 has devoted the top 28 floors of its 100 storeys to owner-occupiers, and developer giant Mirvac has placed terrace houses at the base of its Yarra’s Edge precinct in the Docklands.
John Carfi, head of residential at Mirvac, says there’s been a strong shift in Melbourne buyers over the past decade, and he suspects it’s due to rapid social change.
“When you look at the statistics and all of that, you do see two things that stand out,” he says. “You’re seeing white-collar employment increasing [and] immigration has also been transitioning over time from unskilled immigrants to highly skilled young professionals coming to Australia. Those things point to a preference for inner-urban or inner-city living,” he says.
“The other thing we are seeing anecdotally, and I don’t know the stats around this, but people are much more likely to get married and live in an apartment, to have their first child and remain in an apartment and in some cases have a second child and remain in an apartment, whereas those sorts of milestone events used to be a trigger for moving out to something that had a backyard. I think what’s happening is lifestyle choices are changing.”
MAB Corporation has two Docklands developments with apartments for sale: The Quays and Promenade. The company’s head of residential, David Allt-Graham, has also noticed the inflow of young, white-collar couples in MAB’s NewQuay precinct.
“A high proportion of residents are young professionals,” Mr Allt-Graham says. “You want to be close and that’s what we offer.”
The appeal of urban-based apartment living lies in its convenience. The amenities and infrastructure are there, and time-poor city workers don’t have time to spend hours of their day commuting.
Mr Carfi says: “People are having a greater preference for outdoor dining and going to the park and the beach and riding their bike and being able to walk to places.”
Michael Fox, managing director of private developer Little Projects, agrees. His company has had tremendous success attracting young professional buyers at a number of developments on the CBD’s fringe. Their award-winning, 24-storey* ILK development in South Yarra sold out off-the-plan and drew younger buyers due to its close proximity to the city, and other projects in Brunswick East, Richmond, Port Melbourne and St Kilda have proved just as popular.
“We see lifestyle and affordability as the two key driving factors for why young professionals are choosing apartment living within Melbourne’s inner city,” he says. “We expect numbers to continue to increase in both sales and leasing of inner-city apartments with young professionals seeking to live in areas such as South Yarra, the inner north and Richmond.”