Great Expectations

03 February 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

house housingIn Dickens’ novel, the key characters are made more miserable due to their great expectations… unrealistic expectations.

Some of us may have similarly unrealistic expectations when it comes to housing affordability.

A recent media report focused on a couple who could have purchased, “a one bedroom shoebox apartment and lived in it for the next 50 years, but we didn’t want to do that.”

But in reality, how many of us would live for fifty years in one apartment?

Barnaby Joyce, the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia took a shot at potential young home owners for wanting to live in Sydney but being unable to afford to do so.

The previous generation wouldn’t have expected their first property to be a palatial pad sited a craft beer bottle’s throw away from the CBD. They would have worked hard, bought their first place, saved — and then upgraded.

It is time for a reality check. A possible long-term solution may be micro apartments. Where we are prepared to sacrifice some space and privacy, we could afford to be home owners. And, when we upgrade, we free up housing to be cycled back onto the market.

In Sydney, 35m² is the minimum for studio apartments according to the NSW planning department.

In Japan, where there aren’t minimum limits on apartment or housing sizes, the smallest apartment is around 9m². I am not saying that we should go right down to that size, but if the trend in the small house movement is anything to go by, it may be worth exploring.

This would free up capital for us young ‘uns to spend on fancy space-saver furniture. Or smashed avocado on toast.  Whatever takes our fancy — and meets our more realistic expectations.

Herman Toh is a Mannkal Scholar intern at The Centre for Independent Studies

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