Houses in Australia: Terraced and Semi’s

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…

uk houses in oz (1)uk houses in oz (2)uk houses in oz (3)Not bad on the inside either…

uk houses in oz (4)They are on plots that measure between 75 and 120 square metres, prices start at $204,950 and rise up to around $258,000 for one on the biggest plot.

“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.

Visa Assessment Service
{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Rupert October 3, 2012, 10:34 pm |

    I don’t mean do be condescending Bob and I apologise if that’s how my words come across, but I’m simply trying to engage in a debate and I am frustrated that you think the best course of action is “to wait and see”. It belittles the very serious issues of housing affordability that many people in Australia are facing who don’t have the time or the money “to wait and see”.

    • BobinOz October 5, 2012, 1:12 am |

      Seems we need to clear up a couple of things here Rupert. I’m not belittling anybody and I didn’t suggest that to wait and see was “the best course of action”. You think the Australian economy is heading for a massive crash, I’m not so sure and I have merely said only time will tell on that one or “We will all just have to wait and see.”

      Let’s not start twisting my words.

      As for you simply wanting to engage in a debate, we have debated many times, and we disagree. So why don’t we just leave it at that?

  • Rupert September 27, 2012, 3:36 pm |

    Most of these developments are owned by wealthy Chinese companies expanding their portfolios. The world’s richest and vastly growing economy is buying everything it can get its hands on to enhance its own economy, from arable and agricultural land to residential and commercial land. These two-up two down houses are not actually intended for Australians, but for an ever growing Chinese workforce.

    If, however, as many people suspect, the Chinese bubble has burst, or is deflating, we may see many of these developments either not getting finished (let alone started), or worse being left to dilapidate into ghost estates the likes of which we have seen time and time again in the US, China and Ireland.

    That can only mean one thing – a fall in Australian property prices. So, hang on in there folks and nab yourselves a bargain in a few years time.

    • BobinOz September 28, 2012, 1:22 pm |

      It’s true to say that the Chinese do own quite a few developments in Australia, but I don’t think this particular builder has any Chinese connections. I’m also not aware of too many developments like this one, it seems to be a step in a new direction.

      I see you are still wishing and hoping for a property price crash here though Rupert?

      • Rupert September 28, 2012, 5:33 pm |

        The inner suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne are full of late nineteenth/early twentieth century two and three bedroom terraced houses. That’s what happens when populations grow – housing gets smaller, and so does what you get for your money. Brisbane and the Gold Coast are merely catching up with the housing demand in Australia which is a result of immigration to the lucky land of milk and honey. It’s the 1800s all over again, except this time the government is more racist and less welcoming and inclusive, but that’s a debate for another time.

        The problem is very few migrants, apart from the Chinese, can afford to ‘buy’ any of these properties without leverage and credit, so the smart money says prices will come down – which is why I’m waiting until I can buy a home without being a debt-slave to the criminal banks until my last breath.

        It’s not a case of wishing and hoping for a property price crash Bob – it’s already happening. Property no longer represents a smart investment – and even die-hard spruikers are beginning to admit that may be the case. It just depends who you listen to. When a real estate agent, politician or mortgage broker, tells you now is a great time to buy – they are lying. It is a bare-faced untruth and they are conning people into joining a house-of-cards ponzi scheme under the aspirational fiction that is ‘The Australian Dream’.

        I look at the facts, I look at history and I look at what’s happening in the rest of the world. Australia is sleep-walking into a world of pain. I know I should probably get out more, but listening to our elected MPs, I have never heard so much blinkered twaddle and inward thinking rhetoric in my life. The man in the street thinks the Carbon Tax is wrong and Australia is being invaded by asylum seekers – sorry, that’s Tony Abbott. And we all thought Americans were stupid!

        Anyway, back on topic… Property Price Crash.

        Maybe it’s just Sydney, but people here are obsessed with having the biggest house, the biggest car, the flashiest stuff etc. At what cost? They didn’t ‘earn’ the money to pay for all this – they ‘borrowed’ it! And when there is no more credit and we go into a period of austerity, which WILL happen sooner or later, then what? The banks call in the loans and the aspirational rich suddenly realise that they’re not actually that rich after all. Fire-sale! An over-supply of houses flood the market and there will be bargains galore for those who have been smart enough to live within their means, which won’t be many people, so demand will be low – hence a property price crash, ta daa.

        As we all know, there are many ingenious ways to delay the inevitable – austerity and printing money to name two. I just hope the Australian government takes its smart pills and realises that following the US, UK, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy etc will be a huge mistake. The markets have to correct themselves on their own, without bank bail-outs and currency devaluation. People will suffer, most probably the poor unfortunately, but it has to happen – or we will all be slaves to a handful of multi-national financial institutions and we will ALL be worse off.

        As Ned Kelly said – “Such is life.”

        • BobinOz October 2, 2012, 2:01 pm |

          Interesting views, not many of which I would agree with. But then I believe we have had similar debates and agreed to disagree elsewhere on this website.

          I’ll agree though that the indicators aren’t great, and Australia is definitely in a downturn right now, where it will lead ultimately though, nobody really knows. We will all just have to wait and see.

          • Rupert October 2, 2012, 7:00 pm |

            The ‘we will all just have to wait and see’ attitude is disappointing.

            I understand why you see much of my argument as hypothetical and therefore disagreeable, but let’s not be apathetic about it – we’re in a major mess and the ‘nobody really knows’, ‘watching from the sidelines’ stance many people, including your good self, are taking, could prove to be injudicious and perilous.

            • BobinOz October 3, 2012, 9:33 pm |

              Gosh, that’s really rather condescending Rupert.

  • Anne September 27, 2012, 1:42 pm |

    When we arrived ‘by accident’ on the Gold Coast (ie we had very little idea of where we wanted to be), it was far more densely populated than we realised, and one of my first impressions was how odd it is that people want to live on top of one another when there is so much land. I’m sure part of reason includes necessities such as proximity to work and access to good schools, but I didn’t come half way round the world to live within sneezing distance of my neighbours – I could stay in the UK and do that! We are now moving to an older suburb where the houses have space around them and the atmosphere seems more relaxed. I am totally in agreement with you that the Shoe Box style of property development is not a good thing for Australia.

    • BobinOz September 28, 2012, 1:16 pm |

      Couldn’t agree more, part of the attraction of moving to Australia, especially for us Brits, is to get a house with a bit of space around it so that we don’t have to worry about the neighbours. I won’t be moving into a shoebox any time soon.

Leave a Comment

If your comment doesn’t get answered, find out why…..
FAQs and Comment Policy.