The suburban house, with a backyard barbecue, lemon tree and garden shed pocked with marks from cricket games has traditionally been the Australian dream. In capital cities, now, affording the dream means hours of commuting from housing estates where the economy of living there can be eroded by the need to have two cars.
All this makes the prospect of an apartment in an inner-city suburb very appealing and, if you’re considering making the move, it’s years since the opportunity to own a spacious inner-city apartment, with fabulous shared facilities, has been this affordable.
There are two main reasons for this. A lot of apartments are being built now, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, making it a buyers’ market, and housing prices are falling in these cities.
Several other factors feed into this trend towards apartment living. Developers are responding to the demand from families and including more spacious dwellings in their buildings. The idea that apartments are a second-best choice is long gone as we see how much more interesting and vibrant a European, city-centric lifestyle can be, and how much time and money can be saved by living vertically.
You can have a mansion lifestyle in an apartment for much less than a modest house. Swim laps in a rooftop pool with views that go on forever and someone else keeps it sparkling and looks after the maintenance. There may even be a sauna and yoga room.
Image: Castle Residences, NSW
An entertaining area with catering kitchen, lounge and dining area is included in a lot of newer buildings and means you can entertain a crowd. Going to the gym in the morning takes a couple of minutes in the elevator and some buildings have gardens with barbecues, outdoor cinemas and places where the kids can play and grow plants.
Parking is secure and there is storage for bikes. A recently launched development offers a bike-repair room and another has an equipped toolshed. There is also a development with a dog run in the building’s rooftop park.
These shared amenities also promote the idea of community within the building and make it easy to meet the neighbours.
Maintenance is also a huge bonus – there is so little of it for you to do. No gutters to clean, no external repairs. Someone else cleans the outside of the windows, common areas are looked after by the owners corporation and a lot of buildings have a concierge to receive deliveries.
The convenience of living close to the city offers savings in time and money. You may be able to walk or ride to work. If that doesn’t appeal, transport is likely to be only a few steps away and you’ll be at work before the song finishes. Shorter commutes mean more family time or ‘me’ time.
A night out can be a spontaneous pleasure rather than an event that needs to planned with military precision. After all, there are probably restaurants, cafes and bars in your street and theatres and cinemas just minutes away. If you lose at the footy, you may be able to walk home rather than be crammed into a train carriage with the gloating opposition.
For families, the inner-city lifestyle is excellent. Some of the best schools in capital cities are close to the CBD and, depending on the age of the children, mum’s taxi won’t be needed as often. Older children can catch public transport to their activities, music lessons and sports training.
It all means more choice of everything that makes up a vibrant lifestyle. Apartment prices are low now and, while you may not have a home as big as a house, you could clearly get a whole lot more.