Australian Homeowners Stay Put: New Report Highlights Suburbs With the Longest Tenure
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Australian Homeowners Stay Put: New Report Highlights Suburbs With the Longest Tenure

Here are the suburbs we love not to leave – Australia’s most tightly-held areas

By Bronwyn Allen
Mon, Oct 23, 2023 9:56amGrey Clock 4 min

Australians are holding onto their homes for longer, as a new report reveals some of the suburbs that are the most tightly held in the country. The newly released Domain Tenure Report reveals house owners are staying put for an average of nine years, up from seven years in 2013. Apartment owners are holding their homes for an average of eight years, up from six years in 2013.

There are many reasons why tenure periods are lengthening in Australia. Across the capital cities, the most consistent tenure increases have been in Sydney and Perth houses and Sydney and Melbourne units. Housing affordability challenges are likely a factor in more home owners staying put in Sydney and Melbourne. Whereas in Perth, a long period of weak market conditions may have discouraged people from changing homes until they can sell for more than they bought. It’s cheaper to buy a house today in Perth than in any other capital city bar Darwin, so the increasing period of tenure may also reflect buyers’ ability to secure a ‘forever home’ on the first purchase.

The report notes that transactional costs associated with moving, such as stamp duty, can distort housing decisions and be a disincentive to move. “The financial burden of stamp duty can be linked to people’s willingness to change homes to suit their current needs,” according to the report.

A long average tenure period can also reflect a suburb’s high desirability or aspirational nature, perhaps due to its strong community, the style of housing, or a prized school catchment zone. Domain chief of research and economics, Dr Nicola Powell says: “There are certain areas that people tend to stay at for much longer and that’s because they are committed to the community. So, what you can find is that those tightly held areas are very hard to gain access to.” Dr Powell commented that in certain areas “people almost stalk for houses to come up since it means you’ll gain access into that suburb”.

A long average tenure can also indicate a lack of variation in local housing stock. Growing families may opt to renovate and/or extend their existing homes to suit their changing needs, thereby staying put longer. Would-be downsizers may also stay in larger homes for longer periods because there is a lack of smaller homes available in the area.

The areas with the longest average tenure periods across Australia’s capital cities are profiled below.


The suburbs we love not to leave


Strathfield-Burwood-Ashfield area, NSW (average tenure 13 years – houses)


Within the Strathfield-Burwood-Ashfield area is the suburb of Strathfield, which is known for its grand modernised Federation homes on generous blocks in wide, leafy streets. The suburb has a large number of schools including Strathfield Girls High School, Trinity Grammar, Santa Sabina College and St Patrick’s College. The area attracts older families with teenage children who want to buy forever homes in their preferred school catchments. The median price for a four bedroom house in Strathfield is $3.01 million, down 6.3% in 2023.


Whitehorse-East, VIC (average tenure 13 years – houses)


Balwyn North is the most populous suburb within the Whitehorse-East area. Located about 10km east of Melbourne CBD, it is one of the city’s most affluent suburbs. It is known for its wide, leafy streets, large parcels of land and post-war homes that have been modernised or knocked down and rebuilt over the years. Balwyn North offers close proximity to some of Victoria’s best private schools. The median price for a four bedroom house in Balwyn North is $2.345 million, up 2% in 2023.


Centenary, QLD (average tenure 14 years – houses)


Within the Centenary area of Toowoomba is the suburb of Centenary Heights, about 4km from the CBD. The suburbs attracts younger families on a budget looking for homes they can renovate or extend over time. It’s a great alternative to the pricier neighbouring area of Middle Ridge, with the median price for a four bedroom house in Centenary Heights being $615,000, up 13.5% in 2023.


Port Adelaide (average tenure 11 years – units)


The suburb of Port Adelaide has a strong maritime history and is home to the Techport naval construction base. It was developed in the 1800s and showcases some of the best preserved colonial buildings in South Australia. A sizeable part of the town centre is heritage-listed. Much residential development over the past decade has provided more apartments and townhouses, thereby attracting younger buyers who are also drawn to the thriving social and sporting scene. The median apartment price in Port Adelaide is $533,500, up 23% in 2023.


Joondalup, WA (average tenure 11 years – houses)


The suburb of Joondalup is about 26km north of Perth CBD. It is the primary urban centre of the outer northern suburbs and has its own train station, many parks and a coastal zone featuring Burns Beach in the north and Beaumaris Beach in the south. Joondalup began its journey to becoming Perth’s ‘city of the north’ in the 1980s, when many houses and businesses were established in the area. The median price for a four bedroom house in Joondalup is $633,000, up 2.9% in 2023.


North Canberra, ACT (average tenure 12 years – houses)


Within the North Canberra area is the suburb of O’Connor, which borders bushland on the edge of the CBD. O’Connor is a uniquely quiet residential area with a much-loved local village, yet is only 3km from the city centre. O’Connor is gentrifying as families seize the opportunity to buy quarter-acre blocks with 1950s homes that they can replace with architecturally designed dream homes in tranquil bush surrounds. The median price for a four bedroom house in O’Connor is $1.588 million, down 27.8% in 2023.


Litchfield, NT (average tenure 13 years – houses)


The Litchfield municipality is on the eastern and southeastern outskirts of the Darwin-Palmerston urban area. Within Litchfield is the suburb of Humpty Doo, a popular tourist spot on the way between Darwin and Kakadu National Park. The town has a thriving agricultural industry and the warm climate enables top-quality mangoes to be grown and picked earlier than Queensland fruit. The median price for a three bedroom house in Humpty Doo is $650,000, up 11.5% in 2023.


Hobart Inner (average tenure 8 years – houses)


Within the Hobart Inner area is Sandy Bay, an affluent residential suburb known for its natural beauty, with many homes enjoying spectacular panoramic water views. It is just 1km from Hobart CBD and offers a mix of historical homes and contemporary residences. It is home to many prestigious schools and has a vibrant restaurant and café scene. The median price for a four bedroom house in Sandy Bay is $1.51 million, down 9.9% in 2023.




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Wild cities and concrete corridors: How AI is reimagining the landscape

A new AI-driven account by leading landscape architect Jon Hazelwood pushes the boundaries on the role of ‘complex nature’ in the future of our cities

By Robyn Willis
Wed, Dec 6, 2023 2 min

Drifts of ground cover plants and wildflowers along the steps of the Sydney Opera House, traffic obscured by meadow-like planting and kangaroos pausing on city streets.

This is the way our cities could be, as imagined by landscape architect Jon Hazelwood, principal at multi-disciplinary architectural firm Hassell. He has been exploring the possibilities of rewilding urban spaces using AI for his Instagram account, Naturopolis_ai with visually arresting outcomes.

“It took me a few weeks to get interesting results,” he said. “I really like the ephemeral nature of the images — you will never see it again and none of those plants are real. 

“The AI engine makes an approximation of a grevillea.”

Hazelwood chose some of the most iconic locations in Australia, including the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as international cities such as Paris and London, to demonstrate the impact of untamed green spaces on streetscapes, plazas and public space.

He said he hopes to provoke a conversation about the artificial separation between our cities and the broader environment, exploring ways to break down the barriers and promote biodiversity.

“A lot of the planning (for public spaces) is very limited,” Hazelwood said. “There are 110,000 species of plants in Australia and we probably use about 12 in our (public) planting schemes. 

“Often it’s for practical reasons because they’re tough and drought tolerant — but it’s not the whole story.”

Hazelwood pointed to the work of UK landscape architect Prof Nigel Dunnett, who has championed wild garden design in urban spaces. He has drawn interest in recent years for his work transforming the brutalist apartment block at the Barbican in London into a meadow-like environment with diverse plantings of grasses and perennials.

Hazelwood said it is this kind of ‘complex nature’ that is required for cities to thrive into the future, but it can be hard to convince planners and developers of the benefits.

“We have been doing a lot of work on how we get complex nature because complexity of species drives biodiversity,” he said. 

“But when we try to propose the space the questions are: how are we going to maintain it? Where is the lawn?

“A lot of our work is demonstrating you can get those things and still provide a complex environment.” 

At the moment, Hassell together with the University of Melbourne is trialling options at the Hills Showground Metro Station in Sydney, where the remaining ground level planting has been replaced with more than 100 different species of plants and flowers to encourage diversity without the need for regular maintenance. But more needs to be done, Hazelwood said.

“It needs bottom-up change,” he said. ““There is work being done at government level around nature positive cities, but equally there needs to be changes in the range of plants that nurseries grow, and in the way our city landscapes are maintained and managed.”

And there’s no AI option for that. 


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