I don’t think there are too many subjects I’ve discussed on this blog that have caused as much debate as the cost of housing in Australia compared with the UK.
I think my first ever post on the subject was The Cost of Living in Australia: House Prices just over three years ago; I can tell you the comments on that one got quite heated.
Because I am of the opinion that houses are actually cheaper here in Australia than they are in the UK, but many people disagree with that.
When deciding which country has the cheapest houses, there is a lot to take into account. It’s not simply a case of seeing how much a house costs in the UK, for example, then converting those great British pounds into Australian dollars to see what you could get for the same money here.
I go through some of the things that need to be taken into account in my post called The Cost of Living in Australia: House Prices Revised from March 2010. One of those considerations is the size of property you get here in Australia, a subject I covered in full in my post My House Is Bigger Than Your House. It’s Official!
That article wasn’t me bragging, it’s just that in 2009 it was announced that Australian newly built houses had become the biggest in the world, beating houses in the USA by a few square metres for the first time.
You can read the full story by clicking the link above, but I can tell you that Australian houses were being built with an average 214 square metres of floor space, whilst at the same time Britain had the smallest houses in Europe at just 76 square metres.
But Australia’s ‘biggest houses in the world’ status may be about to change.
Terraced houses in Australia
I think the main thing anyone needs to understand when comparing house prices between the UK and Australia is that average house prices here in Australia mostly refer to detached houses on, usually, a much bigger plot of land than you get in the UK. Smaller houses, like those that would be referred to as semi-detached or terraced, are usually referred to here as units.
Granted, there are some older and quite prestigious and almost colonial style terraced houses in some of our major cities, notably Sydney and Melbourne. These houses were mainly built between the 1850s and 1890s and usually enjoyed prime city centre locations.
So it is difficult to compare houses between our two countries. I spoke with an estate agent a while ago, an Englishman who has lived here for nearly 30 years. He said valuing houses here in Australia is way more difficult than in the UK, because every house is so different, Australia doesn’t do the “two up, two down” that has been so popular in the UK.
Until now, that is.
Caloundra, on the Sunshine Coast.
Stockland, a developer working on the Bells Reach estate at Little Mountain on the Sunshine Coast has been building some two and three-bedroom two-storey terraced and semi-detached houses and they’ve been selling like hot cakes.
And they look like this…
“Two up, two downs” have arrived in Australia.
The architect behind it all, John Mainwaring, visited a small handful of countries for his inspiration, including, you guessed it, England.
I’d like to acknowledge the Courier Mail for the pictures and recommend that you visit their page to read the full article. Be sure to take a look at the comments so that you can see, for the most part, these new houses have not been well received.
Here’s one of the comments, for example; “Awesome…. living so close you can hear the neighbours flush their loo….”
Yes, we’ve been doing that for years in the UK.
This post should be in my “Cost of Living” category, but it’s not. I’ve seen all this before in England; each decade newly built houses were being put on smaller and smaller plots until the words “postage stamp” were commonly used to describe the size of somebody’s land.
I do sympathise with people trying to buy their first property, but I really can’t see anything good coming out of this new direction for Australian housing. I think this is a disturbing development, pun intended.
Never before have the words “buyer beware” had more importance than they do here for people looking to buy their first new home.