Australian apartments are becoming smaller, while our houses get bigger
Overall, Australian homes are their smallest in 20 years, but Australian houses remain the second-largest in the world.
Australian homes are the smallest they've been in 20 years, according to the new CommSec Home Size Trends Report.
The report, which uses data especially commissioned by CommSec from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, shows the average floor size of an Australian home, including both houses and apartments, was 189.8sqm the 2017 financial year, down 2.7 per cent from the previous year, and the smallest size since 1997.
The smaller overall average home size reflects the growing tendency for Australians to live in apartments, and the massive boom in apartment-building - approximately half of all new buildings are apartments at present, according to the report. By comparison, only seven years ago, only 27 per cent of new homes were apartments.
And the apartments being built are getting smaller
The average floor area of a new apartment/townhouse/villa in Australia was 128.3sqm, down from 131.3sqm the previous year, and 10.5 per cent lower than the high of 143.4sqm reached in the 2005 financial year.
Between 2004 and 2009, the average apartment size was around 140sqm.
But don't be fooled into thinking Australians are becoming more content with more modest, energy efficient and environmentally friendly homes - we are still building some of the largest freestanding houses in the world.
In the 2017 financial year, the average size of a new house in Australia was 233.3sqm, up from 230.5sqm the previous year.
Australian houses are today more than 30 per cent larger than they were 30 years ago and are the second-largest new houses in the world. Only the US is building larger homes, approximately 5 per cent larger than Australian houses.
However, house size has declined from the peak reached six years ago, according to the report. "There are still McMansions being built, but there are fewer of them," the report states.
The report also notes that not only are houses larger today than they were 30 years ago, but they have more expensive fitouts, including top-notch kitchens, bathrooms, and floor coverings, and include other new items such as air-conditioners.
Victorians are building the biggest houses in Australia, with an average floor space of 242.8sqm in the 2017 financial year, while Tasmania is building the smallest new houses, at 195.5sqm.
In the 2017 financial year, the biggest apartments were built in the Northern Territory, at 154.5sqm, though only a relatively small number of apartments - 1,173 - were built.
What does the data mean?
Between 2006 to 2013, the number of people per dwelling rose in Australia. The increase in household size was the first recorded in at least a century.
Children were staying at home longer with their parents, and more generations were choosing to live together in one home. New migrants often choose to live with family or friends, and Generation Y was living in share accommodation for longer, according to the CommSec Home Size Trends Report.
But ABS data shows that since 2014, the number of people per dwelling has resumed falling. Lower interest rates and the increased supply of lower-cost apartments has allowed older couples to down-size and enabled more Generation Y to move out of home into their own accommodation.
The question is, will household size continues to fall over the next few years?
Should there be more debate about the types of houses people want to live in? I for one, very rarely see a four-bedroom apartment that I could comfortably live in with my three children.
As the report says, in the end "demographics and choice" of accommodation drive demand.