What do we want from our homes?

AHURI Inquiry to Australians’ housing aspirations

17 September 2020

‘Safety and security’ are fundamental to the housing aspirations of Australians, with 75 per cent of respondents to a national housing aspirations survey indicating these are the most valued housing attributes.

These findings are from the new AHURI report released today, The housing aspirations of Australians across the life-course: closing the ‘housing aspirations gap’ undertaken by researchers from Swinburne University of Technology and Curtin University.

The final report from an in-depth AHURI Inquiry examines the housing aspirations for young adults (18–34 years), mid-life (35–54 years) and older (55 years and older) Australians. The Inquiry examines what each age group requires from the ‘housing bundle’, including shelter (such as control over occupancy, reduced lifetime housing costs) and non-shelter benefits (including stability/flexibility, psycho-social, work, training and wealth accumulation).

A significant finding is that a large majority (87%) of Australians across all age cohorts, income groups and housing tenures are currently housed well, ranging from 80 per cent of young adults to 94 per cent of older Australians.

Over 90 per cent of all age groups who currently own their home state this tenure meets their longer-term aspirations, while only one in five renters saw the private rental market as meeting their housing aspirations. Indeed, the vast majority of renters (between 68% and 78%, depending on age group) wanted to become home owners, demonstrating that private rental is still seen as a transitional tenure for most.

One of the main differences in housing aspirations between the generations was in the desire to live in a house (separate or attached) or an apartment. While a house meets the aspirations of over 85 per cent of those mid-life and older, the figure falls to two-thirds (67%) of younger Australians. In addition, almost a fifth of younger Australians (21%) would like to move from a house to an apartment to meet their aspirations, well over double the rate of the other two age cohorts (8% and 7% respectively).

However not all Australians are able to find the housing they would like, with financial considerations including entry costs to home ownership, secure employment and inability to meet the running costs of purchased or rented dwellings being prominent barriers.

Between a quarter and a third of households across the different age groups experience considerable problems and costs in trying to achieve their housing aspirations, including the travel time and costs associated with living far from work and family; paying unaffordable amounts for housing; and living in neighbourhoods and housing that are unsuitable for their life needs at key life stages.

The report can be downloaded from the AHURI website at: http://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/337

Also published today is the Inquiry report into Mid-life Australians and the housing aspirations gap available at: https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/336

The full suite of Inquiry reports as well as a technical report with the full findings from the Australian Housing Aspirations Survey are available at: https://www.ahuri.edu.au/housing/research-in-progress/ahuri-inquiries/evidence-based-policy-inquiry-51170