The premise of the 'McMansion' is basically the polar opposite of the small home movement. Largely defined as a large cookie-cutter suburban home built to a generic plan with mass-produced materials, the McMansion was considered the ultimate sign of success from the late 80’s to the early 2000. Before the housing crash, bigger was considered better with buyers looking for the same list of ‘wants’: five or more bedrooms, a three-car garage and lofty ceilings.
Over time the wants and needs of the average Australian looking to buy or build a home has changed. In 2017, research commissioned by CommSec concluded that the average new home was just under 200sqm and down 2.7% in size 1. The smallest since 1997. With McMansions taking a sharp decline in America, Australia seems to be following the same trend and smaller homes are becoming increasingly popular.
There are several reasons for the decline of the McMansion across the country, including:
- The housing affordability crisis
The housing affordability crisis is at the forefront of a lot of home buyers minds and with good reason. In 2001, the median Sydney house price was 5.8 times the median household income. It has now grown to 8.3 times2. And this issue is not solely limited to Sydney and Melbourne, regional and rural areas such as Newcastle and the Hunter Valley have seen a significant decrease in affordability. People can no longer afford to purchase large McMansion style homes, instead many people are happy to live in smaller more cost-effective spaces that offer a greater return on investment.
- An increase in the cost of living
Large homes often equal higher upkeep costs. With energy prices continually rising, it’s not surprising there is a trend to move away from large homes to smaller energy efficient homes. Smaller homes are an ideal choice for those wanting lower maintenance costs. Simple tasks such as yard maintenance, cleaning and painting can be reduced by a substantial amount by opting for a small home. Heating and cooling a smaller space is naturally much more cost efficient than larger spaces, and the additional costs of council rates are reduced on a smaller block of land also.
- The rise in more eco-conscious living
Not only does the cost of living continue to rise but so does the impact that living has on the environment. With the rising trend of people leading more eco conscious lives becoming more mainstream, many people are downsizing from the McMansion to build smaller, more eco-friendly homes. Due to their size, McMansions typically use more energy and water while also producing more waste. By downsizing, people have the opportunity to live a more minimalistic lifestyle, while also reducing their negative impact on the environment.
- Changing demographics
Over time there has been a shift in demographics which is naturally impacting the types of homes people choose to live in. After years of ballooning house sizes aimed at high income buyers, builders have recently started to refocus on building more modestly sized homes such as townhouses and smaller homes to suit those who are looking to enter the market and downsize at an affordable price. We have also seen a decline in family sizes over the years with families now only having one to two children which generally means they require less space to live. This contrasts with previous generations such as the baby boomers that saw the large scale of McMansions as a status symbol and a level of achievement for their large families.
With a focus on long term sustainability, the reduction of the country’s environmental footprint and the rising price of the average Australian home, home buyers are looking for smaller, greener homes that remove the excesses of the previous decades and the demand for homes closer to the city reflects this. With clever design and a more sustainable mindset it looks as though (at least in Australia) the era of the McMansion is dead.
The small homes movement is gaining momentum across the world and we are excited to bring it to the Newcastle market. Want to know more? Get in contact with us today to talk about your new small home!