14 Nov Swapping security for lifestyle – Eliane Miles
It’s reported that now more than half of all Australians have all but given up on the great Australian dream. So what are they chasing now? We speak to Eliane Miles whose firm, McCrindle, has co-sponsored some survey attitudes around the issue. She joins us to report on the outcomes.
Kevin: More than half of Australians now consider it’s more important to have lifestyle than it is to actually own a property. This has been revealed in a recent study released by the Financial Planning Association of Australia who conducted the study in conjunction with McCrindle. Joining me now to talk about this is McCrindle’s Director of Research, Eliane Miles.
Eliane, what does this actually mean for the great Australian dream of home ownership?
Eliane: Kevin, in this survey of 2600 Australians, we found there has been a shift in the attitudes around the desire to own a home. This study was really about what does it mean to live the dream? Would you say that you’re living the life that you dream of? Do you deem yourself successful?
So, when we asked the question “What does living the dream mean to you?” we found that home ownership has dropped down the list to number four, so after things like having a lifestyle, having financial freedom and independence, and then having safety and security.
It’s certainly no longer on the top aspirations for what people say living their dream life looks like.
Kevin: Yes, the profile of home ownership has changed, as well. Once it was classed as the haves and the have-nots – if you owned a home, you had a lot in life – but as we’re seeing out of this report, it’s now been categorized into four main personality types, based on their ability to dream, which is what you’re leading to there. Is that what we’re seeing now? Could you give me a brief description of what you found out?
Eliane: Yes, that’s right. It’s the sense that people look at finances in different ways. When it comes to home ownership, we’ve seen the incredible jack of housing prices. Look at two decades ago, the average Sydney house price was six times average earnings; now it’s more than 14 times. In Melbourne, it was three times; now it’s more than 11 times. So, we have to take a different approach to how we look at our futures.
Some predict that if the current trends continue over the next two decades, the average cost of a house might be up to the $6 million mark. So, it really has become that thing that may no longer be the way that we define our lives or define success.
In the study itself, as you mentioned, we found four different personalities based on their attitudes towards finances. We found that about a third of the population are daydreamers. These people do a lot of thinking about the future and dreaming, but they have this propensity to act later and think a bit longer before they act.
Another third would be go-getters who do a lot of dreaming and also have that actionable step involved. Then there are another two personalities. We call them the cruisers, those who don’t really daydream and don’t really act very often – they’re about one in five – and then we have the builders, those who love to act but they really struggle to think big picture, and they make up about one in seven or so of the population.
It’s interesting to think through our propensity to be visionaries and think about the future, where we want to go in terms of our finances and aspirations, as well as whether we’re able to tangibly make that happen for ourselves.
Kevin: I’m fascinated with those breakups there. Is it a sex-related thing, or is it something to do with demographics or age?
Eliane: It’s not strongly correlated to sex. We do find there are more male cruisers, for example, but when you think about the go-getters as well as the daydreamers, they’re almost half and half. Actually, some of the women do come out as less likely to be daydreamers but then also less likely to be builders. So, it does vary in terms of the gender, but it’s usually more a propensity around life stage and, I guess, priorities as well.
Kevin: In the article inside the latest edition of Your Investment Property magazine – the article is called Aussies Chasing Freedom Not Picket Fences – there’s a really good description there of those four category types.
Eliane, just further to that, have those profiles changed in the last generation? And if so, why?
Eliane: I think there’s a sense that we’re still the nation of people who believe in their ability to create the lives that they want. And in the research that we’ve done, we always find that about four in five Australians say yes, they believe in themselves and their ability to carve out the future. But people are finding that the actionable step of turning that into a reality is getting harder, and so fewer people now over the years are saying, “Yes, I’m living the life that I’ve dreamed of.”
That has to do with the cost of housing, cost of living, but also a different way of looking at goals and thinking about the future as a result of many of these previously aspired acquisitions like home ownership no longer being so far in reach.
Kevin: Reading the article –it’s a great read, too – I can’t help getting the feeling that it’s all changed. We used to judge “made it” as having a family and having your own home, but it now is more about lifestyle. Am I correct in reading it that way?
Eliane: That’s right, and so our family composition is changing as well. We have nearly as many couple households without kids as we do families with children, and the growth in solo households as well as group households, multi-generational households. You have many generations now what we call sandwiched, people in their 40s and 50s looking after their aging parents while also still raising their own teenagers and young adults in their home.
And for the first time in a century, actually, we’ve seen the size of households change in Australia and actually increase. Where it used to be on the downward trajectory, now it’s back from 2.5 to 2.6. So actually seeing houses increase in size for the first time as a result of some of these cost of living pressures.
Kevin: I’ve been talking to Director of Research at McCrindle, Eliane Miles.
Eliane, thanks for your time.
Eliane: Thanks so much, Kevin.