It’s no surprise that apartments have dominated the conversation around new housing stock in Australia in recent years. But apartment living is not for all, and houses with land are becoming ever more expensive and scarce in our major cities. This is where the humble townhouse comes into the fore; not quite apartment, not quite house with a yard.
High density development in the form of apartments, is currently the most effective method of housing a burgeoning population affordably, and without the negative impacts of urban sprawl. Typically, governments plan so that high density housing is situated in areas of the greatest amenity with proximity to major civic centres, employment and transport nodes. While apartment living is the preferred choice of housing for some, it inherently doesn’t suit all types of people, especially families who require more space than shrinking apartment floorplates cater for.
At the other end of the spectrum, houses on good sized blocks between 400 and 1000 square meters have been the bread and butter of Australian housing for over a century, with the dream being to own a quarter acre block within a stone’s throw of the city. The fact is that as our cities mature, these large blocks are becoming increasingly more expensive and scarce with many already being redeveloped to a higher density. This is where townhouses bridge the gap and are quickly becoming the housing model of choice for more and more families, couples and individuals.
Town house living offers the benefits of both apartments and traditional freehold house living. The most obvious benefit over apartment living is the greater sense of space. Townhouses these days are typically 2 or 3 stories and have an internal space of between 100 and 250 square meters. Most also have off-street parking for 2 cars as well as an external outdoor space for entertaining, kids to play and pets to run free. Maintenance requirements are also much less than that of freehold houses, with the gardens and bins often looked after by a body corporate manager. For families, these aspects of townhouses tick many boxes that apartments cannot.
Townhouses also offer greater bang for your buck when purchasing. As they offer more living area than apartments, the price you pay per square meter of space is typically lower, making them a greater value option. Many savvy older Australians are already taking advantage of this fact. It is common these days that empty nesters will sell their oversized family home and use the proceeds to purchase a large and often opulent townhouse. Such a downsizing transaction can leave surplus funds to be put towards a rewarding lifestyle of leisure and travel after long professional careers. The low maintenance aspects of townhouses mean that less time and effort is afforded to property care and maintenance and are better for a lock up and leave scenario for extended travel.
A recent trip to Taiwan, a nation tasked with housing a population the size of Australia’s on an island smaller than Tasmania, is an exemplar of townhouse/terrace home living for Australia. Over there, it is not uncommon for townhouses and terrace homes to be up to 6 stories high and house multiple generations of family with enough space for everyone to live freely. This offers great social outcomes for society. Older generations are provided with support and a heightened sense of connectedness with society, as opposed to the cultural norm in Australia of aged care living. Of further benefit is the efficient use of housing. Of late a contentious issue has been that elderly people can sometimes occupy huge suburban homes, fit to house a large family, yet are only occupied by 1 or two people. Multi-generational living solves part of this issue that has come to light in Australia recently.
Over the next ten years, as has already happen abroad, it is inevitable that townhouses will become the housing format of choice in Australia, the solution to burgeoning cities for a traditionally house-proud nation. Planning authorities will need to legislate greater building height limits in suitable suburbs to emulate the success of societies abroad in accommodating much higher population densities. Red & Co. Developments has a number of townhouse projects in emerging community locations in our development pipeline. To learn more click here!