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Majority of apartment dwellers content with their lot

Big isn’t always better with a new survey highlighting the contentment those living in strata communities feel about their choice in living arrangements.

An onsite coffee shop and access to a rooftop swimming pool were just two of the many great amenities that drove first home buyer Ron Lamb to purchase a strata titled unit off-the-plan.

Now more than a decade later, Lamb’s bold early investment in Sydney’s Camperdown has enabled him to enjoy many happy years in his one-bedroom apartment while also absolving him of much of the stress he would normally have encountered in making the transition from share house renter to sole mortgage holder.

Lamb, who just last month sold his unit to be closer to the beach on the Central Coast, says he felt at the time there were a number of advantages to investing in a unit block over a free-standing home. The biggest and most obvious advantage, he says, was being saved from the often arduous task of exterior maintenance.

“You didn’t have to worry about anything outside of your interior. If anything went wrong with the building itself – such as stains in the common area or graffiti on an outside wall – the strata committee got on to it relatively quickly. Owing to the size of our complex we were fortunate enough to have a building manager who worked part-time on site. They did all the research and ground work as opposed to me having to take time out of my day to organise quotes or employ contractors.”

Likewise Lamb, who came to Australia from his native Ireland, says living in a unit afforded him more of an opportunity to extend his social circle, than had he been living in a free-standing home.

“You’ve got a wider choice of neighbours to more of an opportunity to meet people that you like. If you’re living in a house, then you don’t really have too much choice in which of your neighbours you choose to spend time with.”

And with apartment living set to play an increasing part in Australia’s housing future – a quarter of housing stock across the country is now apartments and townhouses and 15% of all Australians live in apartments – it seems Lamb’s positive experience of living in a strata community will become more commonplace.

A recent study conducted by banking giant HSBC found of those residing in apartments, the vast majority – eight out of 10 (78%) – noted they were happy with their living arrangements.

The results of the Australian Dream Home Survey showed the numbers varied slightly from city to city with 88% of those in Brisbane-based strata communities, 77% of those in Sydney-based townhouses and apartments and 75% of those in the Melbourne-based equivalent stating that they were happy with their choice of abode.

The survey, which aimed to investigate Australian’s attitudes towards all aspects of home ownership, including their aspirations for their ideal homes and how they plan to achieve their dreams, also looked at how those in strata communities – 32% of which are renters and 22% of which are aged under 40 – felt about their home and whether they felt it reflected positively of them.

The national results showed, that at least six out of 10 apartment dwellers (62%) felt a sense of pride in their living spaces. Again, Brisbane-based residents came out on top with 74% of them gratified by the place they call home, followed by Melbourne at 68% and Sydney at 56%.

The findings may have been influenced by the fact that in 2015 the NSW government introduced new planning guidelines around the size of new build apartment with the rules stipulating that studios must now be at least 35 square metres while the minimum size of a one-bedroom apartment is 50 square metres.

In Victoria no such limitations exist around apartment sizes however its design guidelines centre around daylight, ventilation and noise minimisation.

For its part HSBC says it is clear the property boom has failed to deter people from dreaming of their ideal residence, with the survey results showing that the concept of the Great Australian Dream Home is very much alive in 2018 – with a couple of modern tweaks.

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