How COVID Has Reshaped Our Living Arrangements
It feels normal to us now, but social distancing, quarantine, and mandated mask-use would have been unimaginable a year ago. The COVID pandemic has radically altered the way we work, socialise, and holiday.
After being forced to work from home, we’ve realised it can be done without loss of productivity. The importance placed on offices has dwindled, while reliable internet connections at home are prioritised. Meanwhile, phone calls and video calls replaced coffee dates and dinner parties for socialising. Money that would normally be spent on overseas trips is instead being spent on home loans, renovations and local holidays.
The new normal
Naturally, all of this has changed day-to-day lives, and changed what people look for in a dwelling. The increased demand to work from home is driving much of this trend. “Many tenants are inquiring about and requesting properties with a strong internet connection,” says Jamie Billerwell, Business Development Manager at Code Property Group. “And there have been a lot more pet requests than usual, because people are at home more and want that companionship.”
Though it isn’t just about NBN and puppies. “I’ve been noticing people are wanting to upgrade to larger homes with bigger home offices,” says Lisa Perruzza, Business Development Manager at Place Bulimba. “We’re also seeing young professionals wanting to pool their money together to live in a four or five bedroom house. They get more space and value for money, and it’s something we’ve seen more of in the last few months.”
Though young professionals aren’t the only ones changing their living arrangements. “There are families who want to upgrade because they’re working from home,” continues Perruzza. “Kids aren’t at school as frequently as when schools were open, so they want bigger spaces to accommodate them.” That said, Perruzza did point out that young professionals were still the majority of up-sizers.
In the same bigger-is-better vein, Ben Lee Long, General Manager at TCM Rentals in Cairns, has found homes are much more popular than units. “Since COVID started, we’ve not rented our apartments as quickly as we used to, however houses are being tenanted quickly,” he says. “We believe tenants fear a further lockdown, and being in a unit is not very inviting.”
The effect on the market
In smaller volumes, Perruzza found some tenants were leaving the rental market altogether. “There are people who have been severely affected by COVID, such as those in the tourism and hospitality sectors, who are probably moving back in with friends or family members,” she says. But it isn’t a significant enough percentage to have a negative effect overall. “The rental market is moving along incredibly positively,” continues Perruzza. “We’re getting multiple applications on every property, and we’re getting large groups through at open homes. If anything there’s a shortage of stock available for them.”
The months ahead will reveal if this change is temporary, or if it represents a broader shift in our perceptions. For many young people, the key aspects of rental properties are location, price and/or company. After being effectively forced to spend more time at home rather than on campus or at social venues, perhaps they’ll continue to put a greater bearing on comfort and liveability. Like all of COVID’s uncertainties, only time will tell.