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Population studies show that Australian cities are becoming denser and housing blocks are getting smaller. In fact, they are about half the size that they were 30 years ago – now ranging from 200 – 350 square metres.

Ashley Lewis, Developer of Five Squared believes that while many are foregoing land to buy apartments closer to the CBDs, a backyard does get more valuable because of the land itself.

Backyards offer intrinsic value because they provide:

  • Room for extensions to the home or even a pool
  • Room for children to play in
  • Room for more private entertaining opportunities
  • Better prospect of capital gain over apartments in saturated inner and/or middle suburbs

As Lewis sums it up, ‘They (backyards) may be a bit smaller than they used to be but the fundamentals of what has always made backyards appealing are still there.’

Overall when given the choice Australians still prefer a home situated on their own land. This is shown in the difference between the increase in median prices of houses versus apartments; with houses rising faster. And this is a trend set to continue and become more pronounced due to the high value attached to a backyard.

Josh Byrne is an independent advocate for the 202020 Vision, a not-for-profit initiative to see 20% more green space in dense urban areas by 2020 and he notes growing interest in gardening and outdoor living, especially from young families. ‘Bigger blocks and expanding suburbs are not the answer, but perhaps smaller houses with better designed blocks and shared green spaces are. For those who are lucky enough to have some decent existing garden space around them, maybe think twice before building over it, you might be surprised how much value it adds,’ Byrne says.

While Australians love their backyards to barbeque in, play cricket in, jump on the trampoline, play with the dog, grow veggies, there’s more to it. We love our backyards because it’s ours – a place to relax, entertain, unwind and enjoy the fresh air.

And let’s face it – they just aren’t making any more land so we need to enjoy that which we have. Over the long run, as demands to housing increase and we are unable to ‘supply’ anymore, those of us with backyards will be sitting on something which has the power to drive up capital appreciation faster.

We, as Australians, have been quite slow to give up our humble backyard when compared to some other countries, but this is beginning to change as affordability pressure pushes backyards further away from the CBD. This leaves us with a question of which would we prefer to have; lower travel times or a backyard to enjoy?

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