Growing and shrinking. Published in the Surf Coast Times

According to the ABS, the Australian population will hit the 24 million mark in the next few weeks. Although not huge by the size of our land mass, 89% of Australians live in an urbanised environment making Australia one of the most urbanised countries in the world.

There are obvious reasons for this. Cities have grown from original port sites where towns first established and the majority of the infrastructure still sits within these areas.

This population growth is changing the way we live. The great Australian dream of the house on the ¼ acre allotment is a thing of the past, with apartment living in the cities becoming more popular and the allotment sizes in housing estates under 450sqm, becoming acceptable to buyers.

Although this population growth has contributed to urban sprawl, it has also greatly contributed to the amount of inner city apartments being recently built or under construction. This is a response to both attitudinal change and practicality. The ability to live close to all your needs and possibly not require a car is attractive to many. The better apartment developments have good access to public transport, are being built near popular art/cafe precincts and even include childcare facilities within the development. Once thought of as the poor cousin to the traditional stand alone dwelling, these attitudes are definitely changing.

In the Surfcoast Shire we can clearly see the affects of population growth. Allotments are becoming smaller and acceptable to the buying demographic. Buyers have prioritised where they want to live rather than how big the land is, subject to how much they can spend. To be able to build a new home with access to both Geelong (and Melbourne) and the Surfcoast beaches, at an affordable price point is attractive to many. If the trade off is that it has to be on a smaller allotment then this is a compromise many are happy to make.

In response to this developers and local governments are getting smarter in their approach to designing and building communities from the ground up. The better estates are inter-connected by pedestrian and bicycle corridors with many natural features either retained or artificially created. They are all NBN ready at construction, with social and childcare infrastructure in place or planned.

Solutions to housing directly affect our way of life. There is no perfect solution, however in the end everyone generally wants the same thing. A safe and happy environment to live enjoyable lives. Australians, in the main, have been good at this to date and there is no reason to think this will dramatically change anytime soon.

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