How to Ensure Your Family is Happy Living in an Apartment

Recently I read that the City of Sydney expects around 80% of its residents to be apartment dwellers by 2030. This is going to take a fair amount of attitudinal shift away from the perceived value of a house over an apartment. Some big issues are already impacting overall perceptions of the virtues of family apartment living. Housing affordability has turned some to strata living and traffic congestion has made proximity to the CBD and public transport hubs more attractive. This has also got me thinking: is it possible that the Sydney apartment market will benefit from something more global – the widespread adoption of the shared economy? When living in apartments we also share facilities and responsibilities…

According to an Urban Taskforce survey conducted in 2015, 35% of Sydneysiders live in apartments. Roughly half own their apartment and the other half rent. 11% of owner-occupiers are families with kids under 12 and 13% of renters. In total, 17% of renters are families with kids under 21, and 18% of owner-occupiers. Family apartment living is already a significant market segment and predicted to grow in size.

Interestingly enough, according to the same report, 19% of the Sydney apartment market consists 3 or more bedrooms. Does this mean that supply and demand are perfectly calibrated? Or does this mean that a shortage of supply already exists? The report goes on to say that “28% of apartment dwellers who are planning to have children will not move out of an apartment”. Based on current figures, I wonder if there will be enough to accommodate them? This begs the question: would family apartment living be more prevalent if enough family-friendly developments existed?

Finding a great apartment is half the battle. Buyers also need to make sure that the complex and neighbours are family-friendly.

Would family apartment living be more prevalent if enough family-friendly developments existed? #SydProperty Click To Tweet

Three key points to look for in the strata records.

  1. Access to outdoor play areas. Some larger complexes have shared facilities like tennis courts, pools, playgrounds and gardens and you’d think it was a no-brainer for young families to flock there. However, there have been cases of owners corporations setting bylaws that ban unsupervised play, so it’s imperative that these rules are checked before you buy into such a scheme.
  2. Safety issues. Many complexes have no shared facilities where kids can play, but they might have a driveway or common area that becomes a kids’ bike-track by default. These areas can be dangerous to play in, so be on the lookout for bylaws designed to protect children. Other safety concerns include kids falling from windows and balconies. Make sure that the building has up to date safety devices in place and that there are no bylaws that would make it difficult for you to “kid-proof” your lot.
  3. Pools. Not only will a pool in a strata complex need to comply with regulations but you want to make sure that the other residents don’t inadvertently create hazards. Propping the gate open is an obvious no-no, but pot plants and other seemingly innocent garden decorations can make it easy for kids to climb over a pool fence.

In the past, it seems that the majority of the Sydney apartment market has been created without specifically thinking of families. It now seems that developers are starting to catch onto the idea of designing for family apartment living. Many new developments encourage a sense of community and connection. They might incorporate play areas, a clubhouse, communal rooftop & courtyards, even child-care centres. One designer has described these as “supplementary ‘living’ spaces that replace the suburban garden.

While we believe that family residents will make up an increasing proportion of the Sydney apartment market, we can’t forget that strata living has particular appeal to downsizers. An empty nester recently said to me: “I’m downsizing, not downgrading”, so I suspect that this is a segment of the market that will also benefit from the availability of more larger apartments in well-designed developments.

There are many reasons why people live in apartments. The Urban Taskforce survey revealed that 53% of owner-occupiers say they live in apartments because it allows them to live where they want to be. “The key difference between apartment dwellers and house dwellers that comes from the poll is that apartment dwellers are more concerned about their neighbourhood. They want restaurants nearby, … to walk to the supermarket, … public transport nearby… [and] shared amenities…” We really believe that this is exactly what families want and that’s why more of them are entering Sydney’s apartment market.

Contact us if you’d like help in finding the right apartment for your family.

References:
Urban Ideas
Keep Our Children Safe in Strata

Further reading:
Is It Better to Buy a House or Apartment for Your Family?
5 Things To Look For When Buying an Apartment
Sydney Property Investors – What Are You Waiting For?

Published 8 November, 2017.

DISCLAIMER: Good Deeds buyers tips are intended to be of a general nature. Please contact us for advice that is specific to your individual circumstances. You may also need to get advice from other professionals such as an accountant, mortgage broker, financial planner or solicitor.

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