The idea of the dream home has shifted, as Australians emerge from COVID-19 restrictions with new lifestyles.
Many Aussies have had to learn and accustom themselves to working, studying, providing care and socialising while staying at home for months. The dramatic lifestyle change is being reflected in what many now want when looking for a home, a new Westpac-commissioned survey showed.
A third of Australians would prefer to reside in an area with fewer people and one in five want to live on bigger blocks of properties.
The pandemic has also had an impact on the desire for apartment living, with nearly 80 per cent of survey participants seeking a house for their next home due to COVID-19. This is a significant jump from the findings in 2019, when 22 per cent of people who wanted to live in the inner-city ring.
Many are also giving renewed priority to location, with 31 per cent looking to be located closer to parks or shops.
Anthony Hughes, Westpac’s Managing Director of Mortgages, said there has been a “behavioural shift” in the way Australians perceive their abode.
“For many of us, staying home for an extended period has changed how we use the space we live in, whether that’s home schooling from the kitchen table or setting up a makeshift office in the lounge room,” he said.
A place to call home
The survey results aligned with ING’s latest report on home ownership, which suggested many are working from home for at least six hours a day. This is generally tipped to continue, with the report finding that Australians expect to stay home six hours more per week than before the lockdown, even after offices and other facilities reopen.
A quarter of Australians indicated that they now see their home as “a complete lifestyle hub”, suggesting that the future home may need some changes to accommodate the extra time spent at home.
Nearly 70 per cent need more space or a different type of space to feel comfortable at home. Almost 40 per cent want a change of scenery in some way, with 13 per cent planning to redecorate and one in 10 looking to renovate.
Notably, 9 per cent of respondents want to set up a permanent home office space. Meanwhile, the Westpac survey showed that one in five are seeking a separate study area, suggesting that Australians are beginning to think about how to incorporate their work lives into their living quarters.
While the backyard has always been an iconic feature of the Australian house, this outdoor space has become more important post-COVID-19, with 27 per cent of Westpac survey respondents saying they want to live in a home with a backyard. Almost one in five hope to also have an outdoor entertainment area at home. For these people, this may mean ruling out apartment living.
Mr Hughes said new residential construction stimulus measures may support Australians’ intentions to improve or extend their dwellings.
“With the government’s recently announced HomeBuilder grants, we expect more Australians will be considering a major renovation to upgrade their home to better meet their needs, or even starting a new home build to cater for their changing lifestyle.”