The Aussie dream is alive and well—but it’s evolving

By Michael Mata



In one of the largest nationwide surveys since the Australian Census, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) asked Australians about their perceptions of the future and investigated attitudes towards the property market, among other things. 

CBA partnered with Claire Madden, founder and director of the research-based strategy agency Hello Clarity, to produce the CommBank Connected Future Report.

“The remarkable insights emerging from the CommBank ATM data overall is the resilience and tenacity Aussies have in the face of economic uncertainty,” Madden said. “As a lead example, while the Australian property dream looks markedly different in 2017, the majority of Australians either fully own or are paying off their home. This has remained constant over the past five decades, so despite uncertainty, the Australian dream has clearly lived through time.”

The evolving Australian dream

The quintessential Aussie dream was once the stand-alone three-bedroom home on a quarter-acre block with a hills hoist, a barbeque, and enough backyard space to mow a cricket pitch into the back lawn.

While the Baby Boomer generation placed a high degree of importance on homeownership (as it was seen as an expression of success and security), some have started to ask: Is the Aussie dream as we know it still alive?

Data from the CBA study reveals that for nearly half of Australians (48.3%), the dream is still alive and well. However, for others, the Australian dream is being redefined.

“While Gen Y (the Millennials) are delaying traditional life events such as marriage … and having fewer children, the average age of a first-home buyer has remained relatively constant over the last two decades, hovering around 32 years of age,” the report said.

Clearly, there remains a strong drive to achieve homeownership. However, as Gen Y reaches the life-marker of taking out a mortgage, the homes they are buying are very different from those of the Baby Boomer generation.

The architecturally designed dream

The new dream home is no longer a weatherboard stand-alone house, and has evolved into an architecturally designed product. Indeed, the quality of dwellings has risen over time and homebuyers are no longer willing to make compromises in this area.  

“The quarter acre block is becoming a threatened species – whilst 74% of those living in cities and 81% of those outside capital cities currently live in a stand-alone house, 48% of new residential approvals over the past year have been for medium- or high-density housing,” the report said.

CBA’s data reveals that while 68% of first-home buyers bought a house in the last year, 16% want to build their architectural dream home after purchasing vacant land.

Aussies are generally moving to larger homes on smaller block sizes, and there is a push towards medium- and high-density housing, particularly in capital cities. As a result, the backyard is being traded for bathrooms, and the hills hoist for alfresco dining courtyards, according to the CBA report.