Australia’s houses are the world’s biggest and are still growing

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Australia’s move away from the McMansion phenomenon was brief, with bigger houses again all the rage, despite the housing market cooling because of the COVID-19 pandemic, or perhaps because of it.

Australia is still building the biggest houses in the world and the trend is that they are starting to get bigger again.

According to the latest CommSec Home Size Report, the average new house built in Australia in 2019/20 was 235.8 square metres, up 2.9 per cent on the previous year and the biggest increase in 11 years.

This growth allowed Australia to overtake the United States where houses built over the 2019 calendar year fell for the fourth straight year, down 3 per cent to 233.1 square metres.

Last month we reported on how the increase in people working from home had driven increased interest in remote locations, and those remote locations obviously do come with the added advantage of having more land to build bigger houses.

CUA’s home sentiment survey also revealed that Australians think homes offering a dedicated office space or rooms large enough to accommodate work desks are important considerations for their next home purchase.

And while YourLifeChoices often discusses the financial benefits of downsizing, there are also advantages for older Australians who upsize when they retire. With the primary place of residence being exempt from the assets test for the Age Pension, retirees who have assets at a level that reduces their pension can take the option of buying a bigger, or more expensive home, to ensure that they meet the eligibility requirements for a pension payment.

The report reveals that not only have Australian houses grown over the past year, so has the size of the average Australian apartment.

The size of the average new apartment lifted 6 per cent over the past year, hitting a decade high of 136.8 square metres.

Overall, the average new home (houses and apartments) built in 2019/20 was 195.8 square metres, a six-year high and up 3 per cent on the previous year.

The ACT built the biggest houses in 2019/20, ahead of Victoria, NSW and Western Australia.

The smallest new houses were built in Tasmania, with an average new house in the state being 179 square metres.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said that the latest figures revealed a significant change from previous years.

“Before last year, Aussie home buyers had been building progressively smaller houses on average,” Mr James said. “Aussies had embraced apartments as well as smaller houses on smaller lot sizes. In fact, the size of the average house built last year (2018/19) was the smallest in 17 years.

“So, while Aussies built bigger homes over the past year, the big question is whether the decade-long downtrend in home size has ended. And COVID-19 may play a big role in answering that question.

“Government-imposed lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 virus have prompted more Aussies to reassess their housing needs.

“With more time spent at home for both leisure and work, some Aussies are looking for bigger homes. Others are coming to the belief that the layout of their home needs changing.”

“There have been shifting trends in the sizes and styles of homes over the past decade and COVID-19 is throwing another element into the mix. More Aussies could embrace working from home in a bigger way, opting to move away from apartments in, or near the CBD, in preference for a larger home in a regional or suburban ‘lifestyle’ area,” Mr James said.

If you were building a new home for your retirement would you build bigger or smaller? Would you consider moving to an apartment for retirement or do you prefer living in a house? Is living close to a major city still important to you?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 15
  1. 0

    i look around my neighbourhood and the houses are practically on top of each other its a constant stressor for me and I am in a house . quantity not quality is the city thing no wonder depression is such an issue

    • 0

      You make a very good point #tisme.
      We live in Far North Queensland and the new housing subdivisions are getting smaller and smaller with average block sizes now under 600sqm. Some lots are now 400sqm with big houses being built on them ..most with a swimming pool. You cannot sneeze in what is left of the yard with out the neighbors hearing everything….. and I mean Everything!!

      Local Councils are to blame for some of this as they get more “developer head works contributions” per block as well as more rates per subdivision.
      However not entirely their fault as some Fed. and State grants are based on urban density ratios.
      May all be OK in high populated cities but some how we have to get away from this one size fits all in rural locations where there is still available land.

    • 0

      Bakka – had a house in Smithfield Heights with an area of 304 sqm. Was quite happy with that as all the houses were built with a large council maintained park in the middle of them. Unfortunately I had to sell thru work transfer to Brisbane. Was rated minimum by the Cairns City Council and therefore quite affordable. Same place here involves body corp etc and that costs us $2000 per year more. Give me a small freehold block any time.

  2. 0

    I find the statement that Australian homes are the largest in the world, rather hard to believe. After watching American Reno shows and real estate programs for many years, I can’t see how they can say Australia’s home’s are larger than the American home’s, in most cases, they are massive. Simply my observation. Cheers Jacka.

  3. 0

    There used to be the ¼acre block with a house and land to grow vegetables and fruit trees. Streets were wide enough to allow for cars parked either side and still room for other vehicles to drive down the street. Now we have smaller blocks with houses taking up most of the block, no Hills hoist, no parking in the street and no vegetable patch or fruit trees and they call that progress.

    The talk is all about how the young people will ever afford a house because of high prices and I believe that because young ones want 2 cars, an overseas holiday, a two storey house and eating out that they have their priorities wrong. A lot of the age group that we find in this forum started off with an older house that needed some work, second hand or hand-me-down furniture and help from family and friends to improve the home. Some are still in that first home but a lot have moved up to a better home and maybe the young ones should set their sights a bit lower where there is still a bargain to be had.

    • 0

      Yep, seems no one wants a backyard anymore, too busy trying to impress everyone with their mini mansions. Why spend half your weekend cleaning a big house you are basically only sleeping in because the whole week is at work paying off the mortgage and weekends are spent running the kids to sport.

    • 0

      No one wants to mow grass on the weekend any longer and one might as well use the space for some more building additions, games room, in home cinema projecting Stan, Netflix and all the other options. People are just to busy for outside activities. Does not apply to me as I still have free-to-air TV only.

    • 0

      Ha ha just what big techo wants, stay inside and use paid TV etc. No wonder kids are not as healthy as they used to be, lacking in Vitamin D, never outside enough, unless they play outdoor sport.

  4. 0

    The new estates in my area are all huge, double story, decent size block but not much room for anything, I pity the kids no backyards to run around in anymore. And they wonder why they are sitting inside on devices, tragic.

  5. 0

    Our house is 580 square metres. On a 3/4 acre block in town. It was built in 1888 for a wealthy business man with a large family. It is lovely but I admit there are some rooms we never use.

  6. 0

    Notice how the call is for the problem of climate change causing more floods and fires, damage to building and businesses.
    It’s a lot of Bullsh#t, Its the greedy councils and developers allowing building on known flood zones and encroaching on native bush land.
    Stop the rot and see it for what it is.
    The houses are getting bigger and blocks are smaller so when a fire starts there is no space to stop fires spreading.
    Filling in natural water courses and flood plains is destroying the land.
    People are entitled to build as big as they want but be fair and make blocks to suit comfortable living. widen the streets as well and make lots of green areas. Greed is the biggest problem.
    We don’t want to know what the neighbors are thinking.

    • 0

      Great comment Oxleigh. Some councils do make sure that developers incorporate natural waterways but from what I see it still ends up polluted from run off from houses, although it still provides a lot of habitat, but of course takes years before any larger trees are established and this is sad for koala’s and birds who require hollow trees for nesting.



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