Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, and according to our national anthem, we have boundless plains to share. So with all this extra space, why are Aussies choosing to build smaller homes?

According to research commissioned by CommSec from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the average floor size of an Australian home (houses and apartments) has hit a 20-year low. While some of our new houses are still the second biggest in the world (US homes taking first place), on average, they’re getting considerably smaller in comparison to our homes of the past.

The cause of the great Aussie home shrinkage? Apartment living.

The average new home is 189.8m2, down 2.7% since 2016 and the smallest since 1997.

CommSec Home Size Trends Report, CommSec 2017

 

Apartment Living on the Rise

Apartment Building

Whether it’s convenience, affordability, or the appeal of having less space to clean, more Australians than ever are choosing to live in apartments. The 2016 Census of Population and Housing found that over the past 25 years, the number of occupied apartments (including flats and units, and excluding townhouses) in Australia has increased by 78%. The increased number of apartments being built has in turn reduced the average size of homes in Australia.

This growth in apartment living is predominantly within the country’s major capital cities, with inner-city living becoming more popular among Aussies. People are giving up floor space for the convenience of living close to work, restaurants, and shops.

And apartments are getting smaller, too. The ABS found apartments have shrunk at an average of 10m2 since 2007.

In 2010, just 27% of homes built were apartments. Today, they account for 47% of all new homes built.

CommSec Home Size Trends Report, CommSec 2017

Home Sizes in Australia

Australia Home Sizes

With inner-city apartment living becoming more appealing, new homes are shrinking in Australia’s major capital cities – particularly Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

So which Aussie states are embracing smaller homes, and which states are boasting bigger ones?

Size of new homes in Australia 2016/17

Source: ABS, CommSec

 

States Building the Smallest Homes in Australia

First Place: Queensland

Second Place: New South Wales

Third Place: Tasmania

According to the ABS, Queensland is building the smallest homes out of all the states. The average floor area of new homes in QLD is 179.5m2, a whopping 8.3% decrease YoY.

States Building the Biggest Homes in Australia

First Place: Western Australia

Second Place: South Australia

Third Place: Victoria

The biggest state in the country, it seems Western Australia is embracing its space and building homes that take up the most floor space – an average of 214.3m2, to be precise. But while these are the biggest homes being built in Australia, WA has seen a 4.5% decrease in home size YoY.

 

Home Costs in Australia

Australian money house concept

It’s no secret that with current home prices across the country, it’s tougher than ever to buy a property. Whether you want to get on board the apartment train or you’re looking to buy a family house, becoming a homeowner will cost you more in some cities than others.

Median home prices Australia

Source: State of the Market Report, Domain September 2017

 

Sydney takes the cake for the most expensive median prices for both houses and apartments. For a house, you’re looking at $1,167,516, and for an apartment, you can expect to fork out around $732,321 – and these prices are down 1.9% and 0.8% respectively QoQ.

If this is a little out of your budget, you might consider moving to Hobart, where you’ll pay less than half for a house ($409,592) or apartment ($323,174) – and these have risen 4.4% and 6.3% respectively QoQ.

 

Is it time to downsize?

Downsizing concept - holding 2 houses

They say bigger isn’t always better, and Aussies of all ages seem to agree.

The ABS found that lower interest rates and the increased supply of more affordable apartments (compared to houses) has driven older couples to downsize, while younger people have been moving out of their family house and into an apartment that is more suitable for them.

Think you’d be happier in a smaller home? Take our quiz to find out if it’s time to downsize!

Moving into a smaller place doesn’t mean ditching all your stuff. Keep your excess things safe in a National Storage self-storage unit.