Future Australian homeowners believe that sustainability and practicality are important considerations when choosing a home. Find out how the property market can adapt.

The current socio-economic and environmental challenges Australia is facing will drastically impact home design in the future – and the country’s younger generation of homeowners are at the forefront of these changes, reveals a new report from Allianz Australia and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

The “Future of Living” report examines several key events – including the recent bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic – that will push future millennial and Gen Z homeowners to reassess their housing preferences.

“As this generation gradually begins to make up a larger percentage of the housing market, it’s important to consider the types of forward-thinking innovations you can install in your home to ensure your property is one that will be considered by our younger generations,” says Rachael Poole, general manager of Home and Lifestyle at Allianz.

Pool says that sustainability will be a “driving force” for millennials and Gen Z’s in choosing and building their future homes.

“Millennials and Gen Z’s are intrinsically a climate conscious group of people. They’ve lived through natural disasters, COVID-19, an endless real estate bubble, and recurrent economic crises, which act as driving forces to making a shift,” Poole says. “This younger generation will play a crucial role in pioneering and instilling sustainability practices within the home.”

The report identifies five key themes that can impact the way Australians live and purchase a property in the future.

Sharing life

According to the study, rising property prices and changes in family structures will push many Australians to create living arrangements featuring “new approaches” to communal spaces and shared resources.

“Sharing a home is more common among Gen Z and Millennials,” the report says. “Friendship, new family models, informal agreements, and collective dinners outline models of ownership yet to be translated to the marketplace.”

The report says that future homeowners will look for fixtures such as thermal curtains, translucent enclosures, transparent veils, stone partitions, timber studs, and metal sheets to be used as temporary partitions to divide the home’s open plan and provide spaces with “various levels of privacy and publicness.”

Managing climate

Climate change is among the top environmental issues the world is facing – and the report says that many future Australian homeowners will address this problem by looking at sustainable means of energy consumption for their home.

“Energy consumption and comfort levels are closely linked,” the report says. “Inside a house, how much we control our climate defines how much energy we consume.”

“To reduce energy consumption, instead of acclimatising an entire house, we can attain comfort by ensuring that only selected areas of a house enjoy a stable climate. The rest of the house can use a combination of passive and natural means to adapt to changing climate conditions.”

Naturalised interiors

The report also predicts that there will be a blurring of the traditional divisions between the garden and the house. It adds that future homeowners can expect a lot of native greenery throughout interior and exterior structures “as domestic spaces become part of the landscape.”

“When you consider how popular indoor plants have become in recent years, this is just the start of how Australian Gen Z and Millennials will be connecting with the outside world via the inside of their homes,” Poole says.

Reusing new materials

Sustainable building materials will be key in the shift towards eco-friendly living, according to the report. This will be crucial as the substantial growth of the Australian population in the future will require vast quantities of construction materials.

Allianz’s report says locally sourced timber will become the building material of choice, instead of brick and concrete, as “local production removes the need for global importation, which in itself brings about many economic and environmental impacts.”

Austerity chic

Apart from the environmental issues, younger Australians also consider economic factors when choosing or building a home.

“The future generations will choose to be more discerning and use what is already available,” Poole says. “This will include ‘unfinished’ looks, and mismatched objects that strike the perfect balance between elegance and style and raw and unrefined.”

“Interior design will become an inconspicuous, mismatched collection of items found between second-hand and mass-market furniture stores.”

She adds that future homes will no longer be about matching luxury items. “It’s about making your home a representation of self, which brings together experiences and cultures, while being mindful of where your money is going.”

But where to start?

Poole says that the report finds that more and more Australians value sustainability and want to adjust their current living situation accordingly. But the biggest challenge for them is that they often have no idea where to start.

“One of the common misconceptions with sustainable living, is that it is an expensive transition,” she says. “Sustainability doesn’t necessarily come with a price tag. Eco-friendly homes are, and will continue to become, more attainable. They are achievable by leveraging natural light, native greenery and recycled materials.”

Poole says that the shift to sustainable living “will soon become ‘necessary’ rather than ‘beneficial.’”

“We all have a shared responsibility to invest in a sustainable future for our communities and planet,” she says.