Guess how many people live in apartments in Australia. Actually, you don’t need to – it’s just over 2.2 million and a smidge less than 10 percent of the whole population, according to data in a fascinating report from the City Futures department of UNSW.
Dig a little deeper into the Australian National Strata Data report, which is set to confirm a few prejudices and bust a few myths, and you find that fewer than half of strata residents are owner-occupiers, less than half of us were born overseas and young adults form the largest group.
About 48 per cent of Australia’s apartment residents are renters, 26 percent own their units outright or on a mortgage and a further 26 percent are “others” which covers everything from people staying in properties owned by family members to empty apartments and everything else that doesn’t fall under rented or owner-occupied.
By the way, all these figures are on the conservative side, as they don’t include townhouses and villas, according to the report compiled by UNSW Associate Professor Hazel Easthope and sponsored by Strata Community Australia (SCA), the strata managers’ professional body.
The report reveals a fascinating portrait of our strata life. At 43 per cent, fewer than half of Australia’s unit dwellers were born in Australia and exactly 50 percent are 29-34 years old. Of those not born here, the biggest groups are from China (7 per cent) and India (5 per cent).
Apartment living is also big business. For anyone thinking of getting into the strata services industry, Australia boasts just over 4300 full-time strata managers and 5000 other people directly employed by strata schemes.
On the casual work front, there were 3,257,341 call-out jobs in strata last year – mostly in gardening, plumbing and electrical – worth an impressive $5.7 billion.
Likewise, $903 million was spent on professional services, mostly lawyers, valuers and insurers, while insurance covered a staggering $995 billion worth of real estate. That’s almost $1 trillion, and a lucrative potential market when you remember that insurance is compulsory for most strata schemes.
The report also points up the differences from state to state. One strong impression to come out of this is that NSW loves strata living – or at least tolerates it – but Victoria considerably less so.
There are 1.13 million strata residents in NSW, about 15 percent of the entire population. They live in 76,565 residential blocks, comprising nearly 890,000 lots of which more than 60 percent are in schemes registered before 2000.
Of those apartments, 31 per cent are occupied by people living alone, 25 percent by couples, 17 percent couples with children, 8 per cent groups of friends or flatmates and 7 percent single parents. The mysterious “others” take up the 12 per cent slack.
Travelling south, only 8 per cent of the Victorian population – or more than 470,000 Victorians – live in apartments, with a slightly higher percentage being renters. There is also a higher proportion of single occupants at 39 per cent, and a much lower proportion of families at 9 percent.
Visiting other states, we discover that 10 per cent of Canberrans and, surprisingly, Territorians live in apartments, while only 7 per cent of Queensland’s population have taken to flats – despite what you see on the Gold Coast – dropping to 4 per cent in West Australia and South Australia, and a meagre 3 per cent in Tasmania.
The Australian National Strata Data report an absolute goldmine for strata residents, investors, professionals and data geeks, wherever you live. You can download it from the City Futures website.
This column first appeared in the Australian Financial Review.