Boarding houses the latest housing affordability gimmick

First caravans ‘tiny homes’ were marketed as Australia’s housing affordability solution. Now it is boarding houses ‘co-living’. From Fairfax:

  • “Co-living, a trendy new wave of communal housing championed by millennials, will be automatically approved in all areas where apartments are allowed in order to flood NSW with affordable developments”.
  • “NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said a new rule that co-living spaces must be permitted in areas where there are residential flat buildings and shop-top units was to create incentives for their proliferation”.
  • “Co-living spaces typically feature private rooms and large common areas and have been described as the residential equivalent to co-working spaces”.
  • “Part of the change is cultural. I think co-living in the past was seen as housing for hippies. Now it’s seen as housing for hipsters”, Rob Stokes said.
  • “Rhys Williams, co-founder of co-living provider UKO, which has a number of spaces in inner-city suburbs such as Glebe, Paddington, Newtown and Surry Hills, said the phenomenon tied into the evolution of the shared economy”.

That’s the death of the Australian dream right there. Seriously, take a look at UKO’s studio apartment options (below).  They are basically offering an Ikea display micro-apartment staring from $400 a week:


Flex plus apartments

Affordable dog boxes?

Co-living is a fancy term for sharing an apartment or living in a frat or boarding house.

The above is another housing affordability gimmick that treats the symptom not causes that will see developers and investors enjoy wealth while the general population increasingly live like caged rats, crammed into over-priced ticky-tack boxes.

And when the privileged cannot make enough money from their boxes, the answer will be to find new ways to cram even more people into smaller spaces and gift wrap it with a new marketing slogan so that it presents as a palatable trend.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. In Woollahra, the next step will be to sell space in your wheelie bin as a way to have a decent address and get a foothold on the ladder. I’m sure someone will snap it up.

  2. Isn’t there supposed to be lots of empty apartments in the middle of Sydney and Melbourne? I wonder what price they are in comparison with these studios.

  3. Next up, ground floor apartments with opening skylights. These are marketed to those Millienials who need the people above to literally sh!t on them to realise this all ain’t ok.

  4. LabrynthMEMBER

    This is to stop boarding houses being built in residential areas. Prior to these new rules boarding houses could be built in R2 Zones with parking benefits and FSR bonuses.

    Under these rules you can’t build a boarding house and get the bonus unless you are a not for profit.

    To build these co-living arrangements they will no longer be feasible in the R2 zones and will need to be built with scale (B2 zone)

    It achieves the goal of moving this type of accommodation out of the suburbs that sends NIMBY’s to froth at the mouth.

    Mission accomplished.

  5. The real culprit here is the cost of land. This has been documented on this site numerous times. Continually cutting the cost of the structure on land just leaves more room for land prices to be bid up. It’s a vicious cycle.

    • kannigetMEMBER

      Nah, the cost of land is a result of massive centralisation of resource encouraging an increasing number of people to spread across a finite patch of land within cooee of those resources. Add to that the stupidity of the average Australian Real Estate expert and land out in upper whoop whoop is “worth” a lot more than land within a short drive of almost everything in Florida….

      Median household income of Davenport Florida is ….. $48,000USD while the median household income of Tamworth is $34,000AUD ….

      While ever 90% of a states economic resources are fed into supporting the metropolitan areas of the capitals, and all levels of non federal governments funding is dependant on the prices rising, and Banks lend like drunken sailors we will have this issue…. You have to solve all three of them to fix this… though if we dont, it will fix itself sooner or later…

      • This belief that the ‘market’ will magically ‘correct’ the housing problem is extremely naive.

        The market maker is the corrupt Australian state represented at every level of government, politics, the Treasury and the RBA.

        • kannigetMEMBER

          Nah, What is Naïve is the idea that property prices can continue an upward trajectory while wages dont. Sooner or later there is no one who can afford to make a purchase. It doesn’t matter how much the government throws at it if no one can make the payments no one can make the purchase.

          Even if property rises by 2% and wages by 1% then property doubles in price every 35 years while wages only double every 70.

          So if both started @ 50K, in 70 years wages are $100K and property is 200K another 70 years and your now looking @ 200K and 800K… as you can see, one accelerates away form the other…

          Now at the moment wages are growing aby about 2% and property by about 25% Median wage currently doubles every 35 years and property every 2.8 years…. with a start of 50K for wages and $1M and in 5 years your have a wage of $55K for a property of $4M … another 5 years and its 60K and $4M.

          How much longer do you think that can continue without a crash? The only reason its still going is the continuous circle jerk of banks giving people phoney equity to allow them to buy another property and tax breaks allowing them to write off the losses.

  6. Yes, this is the logical endpoint of the changes coming down the pike. Boarding houses were all the rage for singles in the 1890’s and really all you you need as an economic unit these days is a car and a smartphone…….you won’t be able to afford a house unless your parents were smart enough to grab some houses first……..just like the old days.

    The pandemic is a foretaste of the non-linear results of climate changes………that Greenland ice field ( or some other outlier ) will just slide off one day and that thirty years we all thought we had up our sleeves will be gone overnight

  7. kiwikarynMEMBER

    They are dormitories. For hipsters, only for so long as the place is new and shiny. The minute it becomes a bit old, a bit tattered, a bit tired, they will turn into The Gatwick*.
    Here in NZ, co-living gets you a tiny bedroom that barely fits a bed and wardrobe for $320 a week. Everything else is shared space.
    *infamous ex St Kilda boarding house for druggies for all non-Melbournians

    • DodgydamoMEMBER

      So sad, and so true. I was going to post a link to a Victorian era doss house sleeping upright on a rope arrangement and instead google gives me a wanky drinking establishment on the rocks in Sydney… says it all really.

  8. Looking forward to seeing Leith take an axe to the latest twaddle on real wages and immigration from a panel of (carefully selected) economists.

  9. As they realise the international students aren’t coming back anytime soon, there will be a push to convert all those purpose-built student accommodation projects into “hipster towers”

  10. WhatcouldgowrongMEMBER

    I’m waiting for the moment they pitch this as fun for the whole family – 35 square metres of fun for all. Then we’ll now we’re well and truly finished.

  11. late 19th century here we come!
    can we get those cool ones where they ‘drop’ the beds @ 6am?

  12. working class hamMEMBER

    Boarding houses were rife in Byron Bay in the late 90’s, back then it was almost $200 a room, only $150 if you would accept the garage, sub $100 for a garden shed. They had a few fires out in the Arts and Industry estate, +20 people living in one commercial property.

  13. MontagueCapulet

    If you look at UK policy papers discussing how to meet the Zero Carbon by 2050 goals, they talk about virtually ending cement and steel production, and instead repurposing existing space to meet housing demand. They also talk about halving energy use per household. Obvious solution? Subdivision of apartments.

    You thought the trend was going to end with people buying all the suburban blocks and putting three townhouses on them? Not at all. The real endpoint is deciding that nobody really needs a 100sqm apartment. We can buy that apartment, build a wall down the middle and turn it into two 50sqm apartments. Less resources per person.

    It starts with councils approving subdivision of 120sqm into two 60sqm duplex apartments, then they come for the 100sqm apartments, then they turn the 80sqm apartments into two right-sized eco-friendly 40sqm apartments.
    Continue the trend of packing more and more people into the same space.

    “We farm people” indeed. Like caged chickens. A two-tier neo-feudal society of lords in their manors and everyone else in huts and hovels and tenements.