Jennifer Blake | The Daily Telegraph | February 27, 2013
Once the territory of first-home buyers and investors, more and more Australians are choosing apartments for the easy lifestyle on offer.
“It’s becoming a life-style choice, rather than a first step towards your dream home,” said Karen Stiles, executive officer of the Owners Corporation Network, set up to help strata owners through the complexities of communal living.
“It’s affordable, compared to your quarter-acre block,” Ms Stiles said.
But affordability is just one factor attracting Australians to the skies.
Newer developments promise community, security and often unbeatable locations in terms of access to the city or the beach, she said.
As many Sydney suburbs become medium-density, apartments are attracting a new generation of owners: well-off retirees, young families and time-poor professionals keen to “lock-up and leave”.
Historically, couples have upgraded to houses when they have their first child, but for Sue Macintosh-Dixon and her husband Gordon Dixon, the arrival of son Jonathon wasn’t going to end their love affair with apartment living.
The couple simply purchased a bigger apartment in the Wentworth Point development they had bought into months earlier.
“We love how low maintenance it is! Gordon and I are both busy with juggling work and family life, we don’t have the time to clean a massive house,” Ms Macintosh-Dixon said.
Sue Alexander surprised herself when she purchased into the new Setai at Narrabeen complex.
“I always said I’d never buy an apartment. But we walked into this one, and it had everything we wanted. We decided to buy it.”
The former tennis great paid $2.3 million with her husband for a three-bedroom unit opposite the beach
“We were going to build a new house, but it got so complex, we thought we’d left it a little late for our age.”
While the benefits of apartment living are obvious, there are plenty of pitfalls if you don’t do your research, Ms Stiles said.
“In other words, don’t be distracted by beautiful brochures. Communal living is not something that Australians are used to,” she said. “It’s not just a smaller house a bit higher up.”
When buying new, it’s better to pay a premium for a property by a reputable developer than be saddled with a defective building, she said.
In older buildings, a simple strata report can warn you of ongoing issues. For example, concrete cancer in older buildings by the beach can result in special levies for residents in the tens of thousands of dollars, she warned.
Ms Stiles believes Australia is “catching up” to societies like New York or France.
“I think Australians will start to understand that their home is not their castle.”