In cities across the world, families have been living in apartments for years but it’s a trend that has been slow to take off in Canberra.
With the Australian dream of owning a house on a quarter-acre block still very much achievable in the nation’s capital, there is a perception many families would baulk at the idea of living in a unit, but there is a growing demand to change this.
For Tamanna Khan and Mahmudul Hasan, apartment living is the only way to go.
“The maintenance of a house is a bit too much for me, I don’t feel comfortable taking care of all the things like mowing, cleaning or gardening – I prefer living in apartments, it’s easier to maintain,” Mr Hasan said.
The couple currently live in a two-bedroom apartment with their sons, Aryan and Rehan, but are upsizing to a three-bedroom apartment.
“The children are growing up and they need their own rooms. We can’t live in a two-bedroom apartment any more, it’s too small for our family,” Mr Hasan said.
The family has purchased a three-bedroom apartment at Kappelle Projects’ Artisan development in Braddon, and they are due to move in by late April. The main reason for the purchase was the central location.
“The location is very good, it’s near my office which is located on Barry Drive. If I shorten my commute it means I can spend more time with family,” said Mr Hasan.
“I can’t drive and there are plenty of buses. [Also] Canberra Centre is close to me now,” added Ms Khan.
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LJ Hooker Projects ACT director James Herbert said more families were expressing a desire to live in three-bedroom apartments.
“There’s a growing demand from downsizers, which people know already, but there is an unexpected rise from young families who want to live closer to amenities, want a low-maintenance home and be closer to schools,” he said.
Late last year the ACT government announced a number of strategies around diversifying housing options for families.
“Housing diversity will be critical to attracting families to the city centre and Inner North, and the ACT government is delivering a range of initiatives which deliver in this regard,” an ACT government spokesperson said.
Last November, the ACT City Renewal Authority set targets for more three-bedroom units in the City Renewal Precinct which spans Dickson, Northbourne Avenue, Haig Park, Civic and West Basin. Estimates suggest in the next 30 to 40 years, the population within the 450-hectare precinct will grow by up to 20,000.
In December, the ACT government announced 70 per cent of new homes in Canberra will come from urban infill and the City and Gateway Urban Design Framework slated an increase in building heights along Northbourne Avenue.
“The framework encourages new and innovative forms of mixed-use development,” said the spokesperson.
“[It] aims to build on the diversity already seen in the city and Inner North, and boosts the appeal of inner-city living for a demographic mix, including families that might be seeking three-bedroom apartments.”
Three-bedroom apartments are an anomaly in Canberra’s market. Figures from the 2016 census put the number of three-bedroom apartments in the nation’s capital at 2254. This is compared with 7815 one-bedroom units and 10,474 two-bedroom units.
“Developers are starting to respond to demand but there is a lag time between demand and developers delivering design and suitable product to the market, but it’s very much front of mind for them,” said Mr Herbert.
According to Domain data, the median price for a three-bedroom unit in Canberra is $502,000 – almost $94,000 more than the median for a two-bedroom. But in the Inner North, the median price for a three-bedroom is $677,000.
From unit sales in 2018, the Inner North placed fourth in the volume of transactions for three-bedroom units by region. Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin each had higher volumes.
Mr Herbert said he has noticed a demand from families for apartments across all town centres.
“There’s definitely a demand in the city, but also across Woden, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin as well.”