26 Jul 2022

In the 1966 Census, nearly two in every five people were Baby Boomers. Fast forward to 2021, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census results show the Millennial generation becoming the nation’s largest, displacing the post-war Boomers, and creating new market trends.

Here, a few of our Brightest Minds delve into the residential sector and showcase how the Millennial generation is redefining the Great Australian Dream. 

Demonstrating how we leverage data to drive our insights, our experts also caution against always taking figures at face value by assessing the health data set and what it reveals.

A budding Millennial cohort shifting housing preferences

Australia remains one of the most highly urbanised populations in the world with a concentrated and established pattern of settlements in eastern Australia and our capital cities. This urban concentration will continue to test city shapers as issues of social and economic participation, sustainability and resilience will need to be addressed.

This generational shift in Australians’ lifestyle preferences highlights the need to respond to, and meet, the preferences of those driving change.

Richard Gibbs View Profile

As the nation undergoes a significant generational shift with Millennials in the ascendancy, this urban concentration continues to present challenges in housing accessibility which are re-shaping consumers’ housing preferences. While there is a shift nationally towards apartments over separate houses (except in Tasmania), we are also noticing a shift towards the regions and higher density living.

For example, as affordability continues to decline in Melbourne with median household incomes increasing by 4% while median rents and mortgage payments have both gone up 11%, Geelong remains an attractive destination – at least for the time being. As the region continues its transition away from manufacturing towards health and professional services, there is a trend of migrants from the Indian continent and professionals with higher incomes and no children choosing to move to Geelong, thereby driving up demand for housing. Those who move, in the short term, stand to benefit from this relative affordability, however, prices continue to rise in Victoria’s second largest city in response to increasing demand. 

These trends indicate further imbalance in our city housing systems may be yet to come, unless we can find ways to:

  • Meet the increasing weight of demand and expectations of the growing Millennial group
  • Increase the volume of rental homes available; and
  • Increase the provision of medium and high-density homes to balance out the housing system.

At this point in the cycle, however, we continue to see the national pipeline of higher density housing stock trending down, with diminishing approvals and fewer projects launching for sale. This raises questions about whether the future volume of medium and high-density homes can keep pace with demand.

Build-to-rent the key to unlocking housing accessibility

If we want globally competitive attractive cities, we need to be able to offer the Millennial generation – including those migrating to or within Australia – liveable, productive communities close to jobs and fun. 

The key to unlocking this potential could very well be to tap into the core drivers that appeal to them:

  • Collaborative communities that are engaged and activated
  • Security of tenure and onsite management
  • Technology to boost user experience and operational efficiency for a better service
  • Sustainability features and other community-minded values that appeal to residents

The emerging build-to-rent pipeline presents an opportunity to also start to balance the scales in housing supply by refuelling the pipeline and increasing the range of housing types supplied to the market. We believe build-to-rent is part of the solution in an evolving housing spectrum.

Data integrity and the health data set

While the ‘Data is King’ adage remains, it would appear that not all data is created equal, and the Census’ health data set is a good case in point.

Australia’s ageing population is evident with approximately one in three Australians reporting having one or more long-term chronic health conditions. Zooming into Victoria and comparing the Census results with those from the 2020 Victorian Population Health Survey (VPHS) some interesting discrepancies are revealed in terms of which Victorian Local Government Areas (LGA) self-report as the healthiest and unhealthiest. 

Over reliance on any one dataset can result in inequitable distribution of social and health infrastructure and services.

Julian Thomas View Profile

While there is reasonably good concordance between the least healthy areas, there appears to be poor alignment in what the two datasets tell us about the areas that appear healthiest – this appears to be associated with higher Culturally And Linguistically Diverse (CALD) populations.

As the prevalence of long-term chronic health conditions will inevitably rise as Australia’s population continues to age, there will need to be an increased focus on community health infrastructure, primary health network capacity, and health and wellbeing programs.

However, users of Census data must interrogate results and consider the reliability of self-ratings and people’s varying degrees of willingness to disclose sensitive personal information to a government survey as both make the data less reliable.

More data will be released by the ABS in October and once again at the start of 2023. This information will continue to paint a more complete picture of the state of the nation.

Urbis have built a free tool to help you investigate Census data on your own terms, in your own time. You can explore investigation areas and immediately access demographic data describing population, household characteristics, home life and finances. The tool summarises the differences between your investigation area and the relevant city benchmark, so that you can quickly see what is unique.

People are the real story behind the numbers – Census Snapshot brings your investigation area to life.

Click here to access it.

Having difficulty using the tool? Access a quick tutorial here or contact us via census@urbis.com.au.

Contact our Census specialists for further information. 

Richard Gibbs View Profile
Mark Dawson View Profile
Julian Thomas View Profile
Megan Aulich View Profile
Alistair Towers View Profile
Nisha Rawal View Profile
David Wilcox View Profile
David Cresp View Profile