Overseas holidays, new cars and having the latest technology aren’t considered luxuries anymore, but are standard lifestyle expectations of the new ‘average’ Australian, according to new research from IPSOS and MLC, the Australia today report.
It’s all about what we define as average, and it’s not so average anymore, with Australians’ perceptions of a middle class standard of living shifting significantly upward in recent decades. The majority of Australians now believe that being ‘average’, or middle class, means having a decent house, a professional job and children in private schools.
People also believe the average Australian should be able to afford overseas travel once a year and extra-curricular activities for their children, such as dance or music lessons.
From Hills Hoists to landscaped gardens
It’s a far cry from ‘average’ as our parents knew it: a fibro-cement or basic brick house, children in shared rooms, a kitchen with laminated bench tops and an upright stove. Back then, the concept of landscaping was the concrete path your dad laid from the back door to the Hills Hoist, which stood proudly in the centre of the backyard. Family holidays were often a road trip or camping. If you went on a plane before the age of 18 you were considered pretty well off.
That was then. One generation on, we’ve rendered and extended our homes and installed stone bench tops in the kitchen.
Laura Demasi, Research Director at IPSOS who conducted the research for MLC, explains: “The way Australia’s middle class lives today is like the previous upper-middle of a generation ago. People have rolled lifestyle factors into what they now call ‘standard of living’ and are confusing the cost of living with the cost of quite an affluent lifestyle, such as overseas travel, kids’ dance lessons and private schools. Actually these factors are not standards of living, they are over and above those factors.