Influx of foreigners driving apartment dwelling growth

By Kay Rivera | 26 Jun 2018

More and more apartment dwellers have been recorded in the city, and no small number of them are migrants. Because of this, apartment buildings play an important role in welcoming multiculturalism into Australia, according to recent research by academics from the country's top universities.

Three years ago, Australia hit an all-time high for attached properties – For the first time in history, the number of occupants in attached properties was significantly higher than those in detached houses.

At present, close to one in ten people reside in apartments. For major cities, the proportions are a lot larger.

“Across the Greater Sydney metropolitan area, for example, 30% of residents live in apartments. In some inner-city suburbs, apartments are home to the vast majority of residents, including in Pyrmont, Zetland and Ultimo. Beachside locations such as Surfers Paradise, Queensland, and Glenelg, South Australia, also have high proportions of apartment residents,” Christina Ho of the University of Technology Sydney, and Edgar Liu and Hazel Easthope of the University of New South Wales explained in an article published on The Conversation.

More importantly, the study showed that attached properties are characterized by multiculturalism, as more than half of apartment residents – 56%, compared to 33% of all Australian residents – are migrants. Of the group, the biggest percentage (26% of apartment residents) belongs to migrants born in Asia.

Across the country, only 7% of Australian-born people live in apartments. For those born in northeast Asia (including China), the number is 31%. For those born in southern and central Asia (including India), the total is 26%.

In Greater Sydney, the correlation between housing density and cultural diversity are more evident. The Sydney suburbs, where more than 90% of the people dwell in apartments, also have high rate of overseas-born migrants.

Living conditions
Although cohesion among different nationalities is always the goal, this can be a bit challenging given social and cultural differences. Based on the researchers’ interviews with Sydney-based strata managers, common problems include “shoes left in common areas, or washing hung on balconies, or ‘offensive’ cooking smells wafting beyond kitchen walls.” Tensions also rise due the difference in age and in working schedules.

While locals are a minority in apartments, it is important to note that Australian lifestyles and norms still apply within the vicinity. “Sometimes new arrivals’ lack of English and lack of familiarity with Australian regulations had prevented them from fully participating in their building,” the research stated.

As a solution to the problem, the researchers said that more inclusive practices should be in place. These include translating of documents and meeting discussions, conducting audits and surveys of building residents, and offering a range of opportunities for participation.


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