New breed of Gen Y white collar renters seeking out 18 inner city apartment hotspots: Urbis

New breed of Gen Y white collar renters seeking out 18 inner city apartment hotspots: Urbis
New breed of Gen Y white collar renters seeking out 18 inner city apartment hotspots: Urbis

There are 18 inner city locations in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra likely to appeal to a growing “white collar renter class” willing to pay a premium to be close to the city, according to new research by Urbis.

This group typically has a higher income than average, are aged between 25-39 years, without many kids and who enjoy buildings with architectural features and amenities like rooftop gardens.

Half of these locations are within five kilometres of Sydney comprising Erskineville, Alexandria, Newtown, Camperdown, Darlington, Pyrmont, Ultimo.

There are four within a short walk or drive of the Brisbane CBD (Brisbane City, Fortitude Valley, Kelvin Grove, Herston), four surround the Melbourne CBD (Melbourne, North Melbourne, Docklands and Carlton) and two in Canberra (Braddon and Civic).

Urbis provides a number of typical examples of the emerging renter class in these locations.

They include “Lucy”, a 28-year-old professional woman in the property industry, who is about to get married to her partner Ned, who is finishing his PhD.

She is renting a room in a new 45-storey apartment building in the Brisbane CBD to take advantage of its proximity to work and amenities, such as shops and bars.

After their wedding, Lucy and Ned are planning to purchase a modern, small one bedroom apartment with good views in the CBD, in another 45-storey tower.

Another example is twenty-somethings Anne and Tom, who moved from outer suburban Sydney to a one bedroom en-suite on Bowman Street in inner city Pyrmont.

The shift resulted in them paying a rental premium associated with inner city housing, which was partially offset by less spending on public transport and allowed them to sell one of their cars.

Their apartment offers good access to recreational and entertainment precincts in and around the CBD, and provides enough seclusion and distance from the day to day hustle and bustle of the CBD to not feel like an ‘inner city’ location.

According to ABS census data analysed by Urbis, renters account for 48.7% of residents in medium and high-density areas compared with 30.4% in other areas.

The average household income of this renter class is $94,400 per annum compared with $82,300 in other areas, while the Census data also shows that 60% are aged below 39.


The Urbis report also identifies the rise of young professional woman as important decision makers when it comes to the buying and renting of inner city apartments.

“Young women are now more likely to be professional and have higher incomes than was the case 15 years ago.

“They are also likely to be in a relationship, but not necessarily married. They are more independent, and have more economic power," says Urbis.

Rothelowman principle Nigel Hobart says location is an “obvious key motivator, with proximity to work, dining, sporting and entertainment all driving the choice to reside in the inner city.

“On the wish list for both owner-occupier and white-collar rental tenants are not only the obvious features such as larger floor plans, high quality finishes, fixture and fittings, generous internal storage, and good external space but also a desire to live in buildings with high quality, distinctive architecture that incorporates attractive communal spaces to facilitate interaction both with other residents and the surrounding community," Hobart says.

“These tenants seek amenity criteria similar to owner-occupiers, and are prepared to pay higher rents and sign longer term leases to secure such apartments, making them an attractive market for investors,” says Hobart.

Rothelowman designed the MaxVic development Habitat (pictured below) on Melbourne’s Southbank, which he says is an example of a project designed to meet the demands of the white-collar rental market.


The project features a distinct patterned façade rising from the Sturt Street arts precinct, a rooftop sky garden and a landscaped three story vertical garden designed to appeal to a more sophisticated market.

“Today’s more informed purchaser requires these fundamentals as a given, but also demands insight into their lifestyle needs or the needs of their target tenant in the case of the investor,” Hobart says.

This inner city urban renewal favouring a more savvy and professional renter class is also noted by property investment adviser Sam Saggers from Positive Real Estate.

“Today, drive around inner Sydney and it’s easy to notice the changes to Alexandria, Green Square and Harold Park.

“The change could be argued as urban renewal and not true gentrification, as of course publically listed companies such as Mirvac are pushing a new level of housing in these zones,” Saggers says.

He also anticipates that gentrification could spread beyond the inner city zones into previously unfashionable places like Blacktown in the outer west and has identified three market drivers that often change an area for the better. They are better economics, population growth and a new zone of wealth creation, which he calls “the final piece of the puzzle that sees an area enhance itself for the better and eventual gentrification to occur based on more wealth changing the market landscape”.

According to Urbis, the spread of higher density living beyond the inner city suburbs to places like  Ringwood in Melbourne’s east and Castle Hill in Sydney’s north-west should ideally be happening, but there have yet to be substantial increases in residential density, despite these aspirations.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer


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