What We Really Think About The ‘Great Australian Dream’

In one of the largest national surveys since the Australian Census, Australians were asked about how they perceive the future surrounding the property market, a changing workforce and younger generations.

The Commonwealth Bank conducted the survey, which produced over one million responses.

According to the results, as the quarter acre block is becoming a threatened species and backyards are replaced by patios, just under half of Australians (48 per cent) believed that the property dream is still alive and well, and for others (52 per cent), the Australian dream is being redefined.

Partnering with demographer and futurist Claire Madden, the CommBank Connected Future Report examined national, economic and social trends that emerged from the data.

“The remarkable insights emerging from the CommBank ATM data overall is the resilience and tenacity Aussies have in the face of economic uncertainty,” Ms Madden said.

“As a lead example, while the Australian property dream looks markedly different in 2017, the majority of Australians either fully own or are paying off their home.

Housing Affordability

“This has remained constant over the past five decades, so despite uncertainty, the Australian dream has clearly lived through time,” she said.

The research showed while Millennials (Gen Y) are delaying traditional life markers like getting married or having a child, the average age of a first homebuyer has remained relatively constant over the last two decades, sitting at around 32 years of age.

Despite rapid digital disruption, increased global connectivity and the emergence of artificial intelligence, resilience seems to be a common trend amongst Australians. Almost half (49 per cent) believed businesses were ready to face the future and 49 per cent believed the younger generations have the skills needed for tomorrow.

Key findings

The architecturally designed dream

The Australian ‘dream home’ is no longer a weatherboard standalone house. It is an architecturally designed product, as the quality of dwellings has risen over time. Whilst 74 per cent of those living in cities and 81 per cent of those outside capital cities currently live in a stand alone house, 48 per cent of new residential approvals over the past year have been for medium or high density housing. The data revealed 68 per cent of first home buyers purchased a house in the last year, 16 per cent desired to build their architectural dream home after purchasing vacant land, and 15 per cent purchased an apartment or townhouse.

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Living in your state of optimism

The least optimistic were people residing in New South Wales (53 per cent) and Victoria (54 per cent), and this was significantly high with younger generations (57 per cent in both states). Those in Queensland (51 per cent), South Australia (53 per cent), Western Australia (54 per cent) and the Northern Territory (57 per cent) believe the dream is more attainable.

The ‘options’ Generation

Gen Y have prioritised global travel, lifestyle experiences, stayed longer in formal education and attained the name KIPPERS (Kids in Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings) for staying in the family home longer. Yet now they are in their prime career building and family forming years, they, like their predecessors, are finding a way to overcome the obstacles, respond to new realities, and see the (re)defined dream come alive.

Even though the dream has taken a different form, the data reveals property ownership remains high on the aspirational list (average home buying age remains consistent at 32).

Gen Z and Gen Alpha

According to the research, rapid digital disruption, increased global connectivity and the emergence of artificial intelligence are converging to reshape the business landscape and the way future generations define work. With high job mobility and the increased casualisation of the workforce, Gen Z (8-22 years old) will have 17 jobs across five careers in their lifetime.

As Gen Z and Gen Alpha (born 2010-2024) complete their schooling and enter the workforce, they will need to be adaptive and agile in order to integrate job roles with rapidly advancing automated systems and handle changing employment markets and organisational structures.

Women leading the way

Women are most optimistic about our kids being skilled up for the future with 52 per cent believing they are future ready, compared with 48 per cent of men. This WAS particularly evident amongst younger age groups, with the greatest gender gap amongst Gen Ys (25-39 year olds) with a 5 per cent differential between males and females.

Culture and society

With almost THREE in 10 Australians (29 per cent) born overseas, and a quarter (27 per cent) of the population’s labour force born overseas, immigration has significantly contributed to Australia’s workforce and economy.

In the midst of this diversity, CommBank data revealED that almost half of Aussies (49 per cent) believe that our society truly embraces everyone.

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