I Am, You Are, We Are…

It’s time to stand up and be counted! With the census fast approaching, it’s a good time to assess what it means to be an Australian as well as shine a spotlight on the evolving face of Australian households.

Consider your own family. I’d wager that as you climb that family tree, it most likely would have many more branches extending from a single stem toward the top than closer to the bottom. In other words, our households are shrinking. The average household size has consistently fallen from when figures were first collected in 1911. Eleven years after Federation, the average Australian household contained 4.6 people. As of the 2011 census, there were 2.6 people per household.

There are a few opposing forces that will shape our household structure in the coming decades:

  1. The increasing participation of women in the work force has resulted in Australians having less children, placing downward pressure on household sizes. In 1978, approximately 44% of Australian women were employed; now, female participation stands at approximately 60%. Women account for approximately 46% of the total work force, up from 36% in 1978
  1. Affordability stress, particularly in our city centres, will likely increase the proportion of group households, placing upward pressure on household sizes
  1. The ageing population and the movement of the baby boomer cohort through the age spectrum will contribute to a reduction in household size. A significant proportion of lone person households are comprised of elderly people, and empty nester households are created when children move out of home

What does all this mean for the property market? The fact is, as Australian households shrink and the population grows, we will require an increasing amount of housing to accommodate the population. Your role as an investor is to ensure you invest in an asset that attracts the maximum level of demand in tenancy and resale both now and, more importantly, in the future.

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