The places no one wants to leave and why – Nicola McDougall

One of the metrics closely followed by real estate agents is how long people will stay in property. This is an indicator for when people are likely to sell. But there are some suburbs the people simply do not want to leave. Nicola McDougall tells us about some of those.
Kevin:  Have you ever wondered what it takes to get some people to move house? I’m interested to find out about an article that was written by Nicola McDougall, a good friend of ours. Nicola wrote an article for Brisbane Times, and it was called “Home For A Lifetime: The Brisbane Suburbs Where No One Leaves.” Nicola, thanks for joining us.
Nicola:  Hi, Kevin. Always good to see you.
Kevin:  Nicola, fascinating. This is based on a little bit of personal experience?
Nicola:  Yes, exactly. When I first shifted to Brisbane 17 years ago from Fremantle, I rented a little unit down by the river there in West End. I’d only spent time in Brisbane briefly over my life, and I absolutely loved it. Then over the course of years, I moved in a bit of a triangle from that location, and now 17 years later, I actually own a property 800 meters from where I first rented all those years ago.
West End is a suburb like that, where it attracts a certain type of demographic, I guess, and because it’s inner city and has a lot of really great things that you can do and cafés and bars, for me, there was never an option that I wouldn’t just stay there for the long term – possibly forever.
Kevin:  It’s a great story. Brisbane obviously isn’t the only city in the world where people simply don’t move, but there probably would be similar characteristics no matter where you go. What did you find in your research? We’ll talk about the suburbs in just a moment, but what did you find in your research that holds someone in a suburb, that locks them in?
Nicola:  I think there were key differences between the inner city suburbs and the more outer ring suburbs. The inner city, of course, were suburbs that had a great lifestyle amenity attached to it – good schools, obviously a lot of cultural types of things to do, bars and cafés and all those things, and clearly a close commute to the city.
The outer ring suburbs are more interesting. There were a lot of acreage suburbs – so Chandler and places like that – where I think it really showed the differences between people, and that some people really want to be in the city with all the hustle and bustle that comes with that, whereas other people want more of a quieter lifestyle and perhaps some acreage, but here in Brisbane, still only 15 or 20 kilometers from the city.
So, that’s what I really found. It really depended on who you are personally and, I guess, what floats your boat.
Kevin:  I wonder sometimes if it’s going to change, because you think back on the smaller types of houses where the family grew up, two or three kids in one bedroom, and then when the kids leave, the house is still not too big for the parents to stay in it. But nowadays, with the “McMansions” built around a large family, when all the family leave, they move on. I wonder if that’s going to change, Nicola.
Nicola:  I don’t think in many of the suburbs that came through in the research, probably weren’t a lot of suburbs with a lot of new builds in it, but some of the acreage suburbs, of course. But that’s not so much about the house but the location and wanting to have acreage, perhaps because they have animals, horses or something like that.
But certainly, what we found, and the experts that I spoke to for the story, one of the other reasons we think that people don’t move these suburbs is because of the high cost of moving. I’m not just talking about getting the removalists around and things like that, but there ar6e the selling costs, obviously, agent’s commission – rightly so – but also stamp duty.
And so a lot of families instead of moving even as the family changes and grows, they’re renovating or adding to their properties because they’re able to stay in the suburb that they love while also expanding the home to suit their current needs.
Kevin:  Tell me about the suburbs that you found in the research that hold people in.
Nicola:  The number one was Highgate Hill, and that’s no surprise. We were surprised that West End wasn’t in there, but Highgate Hill is right next door. And as I say, that’s no surprise at all. That’s the sort of suburb that attracts a certain type of person, and they generally stay there because of the community of artists and creative people who live in that location, and of course, it’s one kilometer from the city.
Other suburbs like Wilston, for example, Grange, Newmarket, these are all the inner north suburbs that are very popular. They’ve seen quite an extraordinary amount of gentrification over the last decade. Also beautiful old cottages that people are renovating and extending.
Those inner city suburbs, it’s quite easy to see why people are going to those locations and staying, but for some of the other suburbs in the outer ring as I’ve talked about, it’s more about acreage, or perhaps it’s more about the aspirational homebuyers and investors perhaps whose ideal would be to end up closer to the city, but to do that, they bunny hop out from the outer ring suburbs, perhaps into Carindale and try to upgrade from that point on.
But you’re talking about people who are probably staying in the suburbs anywhere from 15 years and above. I think the data is that most people stay about seven or eight years in their homes, so it’s certainly probably about double that.
Kevin:  The data for this was compiled by Dr. Andrew Wilson from The Domain Group. We thank him for allowing us to talk about this, as well.
You’re going to be able to see Nicola join Shannon Davis and me in a special episode of Buy in Brisbanewhere we talk to Nicola, so you can watch out for that. It’s coming out next Monday. That’s Buy in Brisbane, so watch out for that as Nicola McDougall joins us.
Nicola, thank you so much for your time.
Nicola:  Anytime, Kevin. You know that.

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