The pandemic induced move to the regions has flipped and more Aussies want to live in the city centre. Image: The Property Tribune; Henry Thai.
  • Several pandemic trends beliefs have been turned on their head
  • New norms and pre-pandemic trends accelerated significantly
  • Quality of life is the main driver of many decisions

A global survey of over 20,000 people has revealed several pandemic trends have completely reversed, and others have merged into a new norm.

CBRE polled 21,096 people around the world, with 1,006 respondents coming from Australia. The survey saw respondents of all ages, from baby boomers to Gen Z.

Some trends saw a complete 180-degree shift, while other trends came full circle. Shopping in person is still a “driving force”, but many respondents indicated they prefer to pick up online orders in-store.

“One of the key conclusions is that quality of life is the top consideration for where and how people live, work and shop, ” said Sameer Chopra, Pacific head of research for CBRE.

“After the shift to alternate locations during the pandemic, more Australians plan to move back to urban areas. People also want to feel more connected to the places they occupy, with wellness factors more influential than ever before,” said  Chopra.

Sameer Chopra, head of research, Pacific & ESG, Asia Pacific. Image: CBRE.

More Australians prefer renting

While the survey found that Australians still prefer owning a home, the split of home ownership to renting is 52% to 48%, a surprisingly high number of people preferring rentals.

“The survey highlights respondents’ desire to live in high-quality residences that provide exceptional amenities and real-world experiences. This is supporting the increased demand for Build to Rent development (BTR) in Australia, as investors react to the shift in customers’ expectations about their homes and recognise the attractive real estate investment returns,” said CBRE’s regional director of living sectors, capital markets, Andrew Purdon

Andrew Purdon, regional director, living sectors, capital markets, Pacific. Image: CBRE.

CBRE’s report also indicated, for Australia, that almost one in three respondents (32 per cent) are planning to move within the next two years, with the vast majority looking for a central location.

A CBD spot commands 53 per cent of Aussie preferences, while a tree change only sees 39 per cent considering the move. Moving to a new country altogether is an eight percent perference.

Planning to relocate in the next two years

Source: CBRE.

The report also noted that:

In Australia, nearly 90 per cent of those looking to buy already own a home. Similarly, one third of renters looking to relocate would prefer to buy and two thirds prefer to continue renting.”

CBRE Research, Live. Work. Shop. Report, Local Response: Australia December 2022

Buy versus rent for those planning to relocate

Bubble size represents GDP of each country. Source: CBRE.

Why are people moving to new homes?

The report found the strongest driver for moving houses was looking for better quality, with the remainder of the top five reasons for moving house, being:

  1. seeking better quality housing,
  2. to save money,
  3. affordability of housing,
  4. seeking a better community, and
  5. to be closer to family and friends.

Despite the pandemic desire for outdoor space, particularly during lockdowns and times of restrictions, outdoor space is much lower down on the list of preferences at seventh place.

Reasons to move location in the future

Source: CBRE.

What are people looking for in a new home?

Cost remains at the forefront of renters’ minds, far outweighing the next consideration on the list – commuting time. Close behind on what renters are looking for: outdoor space, dedicated space for working from home (WFH), and smart home technology.

The order of that list is slightly different for home buyers, with house prices naturally commanding the most attention, but outdoor space taking second spot, as opposed to commuting time, which ranks fourth. A dedicated space for WFH is the third most desired aspect when buying a house, with smart home technology almost equal to commuting time.

Importance of factors when choosing a property

Source: CBRE.

Notably, the pandemic induced “push to the bush”, “sea change”, or “tree change” seems to no longer be at play. Gone is the widely held belief that most people were seeking to move to non-urban areas as they no longer needed to commute regularly to the office; city centre areas are again the most sought after locations among those respondents planning to move.

Work location location location

Salary remains top of the list for survey respondents, but commuting time was the next most important factor. Flexible working hours and location were also among the chief concerns for survey respondents, with work-life balance rounding out the top five desires.

“For occupiers looking to attract Gen Z and Millenials to the office environment; car parking, food and beverage options and apps which inform on when colleagues will be in the office resonate strongly.”

CBRE Research, Live. Work. Shop. Report, Local Response: Australia December 2022

Aside from being able to park a car, having shorter commuting times is the next most preferred quality of an office location, followed by public transport accessibility and proximity to retail and hospitality.

The report also noted that “Workspace design and technology rate highly in perception of quality.”

Bricks and mortar remains king

While online shopping and e-commerce took off throughout the pandemic, shopping in-store and in person remains number one, according to CBRE’s survey.

Preferred method of shopping

Source: CBRE.

Online shopping remains the method of choice for items including cosmetics, electronics, and gifts, said the report, with DIY and groceries still commanding shop floor space.

Post-pandemic, the previous emerging retail trend of shopping online, but then trying and returning in store, seems to have been cemented.

The CBRE report found that almost 60 Per cent of respondents wanted to see a product in person before ordering online, and “Shops… offer an opportunity for last mile logistics with a strong preference to return goods in-store.”

Behaviours driving online and offline preference

Source: CBRE.


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