The High Life: Apartment living is here to stay, for young and old video

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Apartment living: the facts.

More and more Kiwis are choosing apartments over houses. In this High Life series, Homed explores what that means for the way we live.

Living in an apartment is the norm in many countries – the standalone house is the exception.

But it's only recently that we have come to accept that this is how it's going to be in New Zealand as well.

The Fabric of Onehunga, a brownfields project by Lamont & Co, is a 'pocket neighbourbood' development.
Fabric of Onehunga

The Fabric of Onehunga, a brownfields project by Lamont & Co, is a 'pocket neighbourbood' development.

To quote Jeff Davidson, Colliers International residential project marketing director: "It's been a long-time coming, but apartment living is certainly here to stay. An apartment is just as much a home as a house."

READ MORE:
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And the figures back it up. Auckland's new apartment market is booming, with a record number of apartments due to be completed over the next two years.

Are you an apartment dweller with a story to share about how you live your life? Share it with us. Send your story, photos or video to homed@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

The latest biannual Colliers International Auckland Residential Development Report found the highest number of apartment completions in more than a decade is expected this year. 

The Alexandra Park apartment development sold out while still under construction.

The Alexandra Park apartment development sold out while still under construction.

Some 2770 apartments are due to be completed in Auckland in 2017 – the greatest number since the 2005 peak, when 3600 apartments were finished.

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Even more apartments are due to be finished next year, with a record-breaking 3840 apartments due to be completed in 2018.

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Many of the people buying into the Alexandra Park development in Epsom and empty-nesters who are moving less than 5km ...

Many of the people buying into the Alexandra Park development in Epsom and empty-nesters who are moving less than 5km from the family home.

The Auckland Unitary Plan is planning for one million more people and 400,000 new dwellings over the next 30 years. But while the focus is on increasing living densities over time, quality housing "always comes first". The creation of "attractive neighbourhoods where people want to live" is a priority.

"This type of living is not just going to be an Auckland phenomenon," says Davidson. "Clearly, Auckland's population growth has required a faster rate of apartment growth than other places, but they will be in demand in other cities, also."

Trade Me Property's February data for Christchurch showed that while price growth in the wider market was just 0.7 per cent year-on-year, the city's apartment market saw year-on-year growth of 28.3%. 

Contemporary apartment design is a far cry from old - units, such as this on in the Fabric of Onehunga development, are ...

Contemporary apartment design is a far cry from old - units, such as this on in the Fabric of Onehunga development, are well designed and highly functional.


FIRST-HOME BUYERS AND EMPTY-NESTERS

Davidson says there are two key markets buying into apartments – first-home buyers looking for an affordable, low-maintenance home, often in a pocket neighbourhood that works with their busy lifestyle, and empty-nesters who are downsizing and also wanting low maintenance and a lock-and-leave lifestyle.

"Much of the reason for the surge can be attributed to developers, who are developing a much better product than in years gone by. Apartments today are very well specified and very attractive. Many years ago, apartments were considered pretty grim. But today, people go and look at a display home, such as the Fabric of Onehunga, and think, 'I could live there'. They love the idea of no maintenance, yet they can still enjoy a green space that's common land managed by a body corporate."

HEADING TO THE SUBURBS

The figures point to a huge surge in apartments going up in the suburbs as well as the city. The Colliers International report found that 48 new suburban developments are likely to be developed in suburban areas in 2017-2020, compared with 32 in the CBD and 41 in the city fringe.

The report noted that many purchasers are moving away from the traditional CBD unit, and looking to the city fringe and suburbs for high-quality apartments to replace the family home. "We also notice that most empty-nesters don't want to move out of the area where they live – they want to stay in the same community, close to the same shops, friends and family," says Davidson.

Are you an apartment dweller with a story to share about how you live your life? Share it with us. Send your story, photos or video to homed@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

The company quotes the Alexandra Park apartment project in Epsom as evidence of this – the 246 apartment development has now completely sold out, even though it is not due to be completed till next year.

"Empty-nesters can often trade down to an apartment and free up funds to do other things. They are not tied into home maintenance and chores around the garden."

CLOSE TO TRANSPORT LINKS AND SHOPS

Proximity to infrastructure is also paramount, says Davidson. "Developments near shops, cafes and transport options, such as rail links, offer an affordability of living with reduced transport costs and reduced time spent on the road getting to work. This makes them a very attractive option."

Davidson says Colliers sees many young families moving into apartments. "In many of the new pocket neighbourhoods, there are green areas where children can kick a soccer ball, and invariably there will be other children around to join in. In general, we are finding that public spaces are starting to be better utilised as private living areas become smaller."

But Davidson says there is still a stage when families might prefer a standalone house, and that is when a family has two or three teenagers. "Apartments are not always such as easy option for a family with older children that might need more space. Most apartments are two-bedroom, but we are starting to see more three-bedroom units. We are still some way from providing for large family groups, but the market will start meeting that demand."

IT'S ALL ABOUT GREAT DESIGN

Good design is also a key reason for the huge growth in apartment design, meaning a small space can go a long way. "Modern apartments have far greater efficiency and utilisation of space than the older ones. But moving into an apartment invariably means people do lose a lot of baggage. You can't bring everything with you into an apartment, so you become a lot more judicious about what you will save. People say they have accumulated a lot of stuff, but when you downsize, you declutter and that's all part of the freedom – it's refreshing."

 - Homed

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