Anglo Countries’ Hostility to Apartments

With tenants facing rent increases of 20% and 30% and rental availability at record lows, the search is on for answers. In a recent piece for the Financial Times, renowned data analyst John Burn-Murdoch argues “the Anglosphere needs to learn to love apartment living.”

The argument is based on data on “dwellings per 1,000 people” across various countries. Forty years ago, the Anglophone countries and continental Western Europe all had around 400 dwellings per 1,000 people. The numbers have since diverged significantly, with Western Europe recording 560 dwellings per 1,000 people at present, while the Anglosphere is unchanged.

This is largely about an obsession with freestanding homes. In the US and UK, one finds a net-negative view of living in a 3-4 storey apartment block, while in continental Western Europe they are viewed positively.

Table via The Financial Times

This is then reflected in real estate prices. In fact, in every Anglophone country, the cost of housing has increased more in the past 10 years than in any continental Western European country.

Dealing with supply-side problems with housing is perhaps the toughest contradiction for progressive figures.

One of the Greens loudest promises in the lead-up to the NSW election this Saturday is a plan to “Cut Rents.” Yet they have historically been staunch opponents of property developers and backed “community” campaigns led by inner-city house-owners.

Karen Freyer, a teal candidate for the wealthy eastern Sydney suburb of Vaucluse, claims the narrative of a need for more supply is being driven by developers. Freyer told the AFR last week, “Developers act as though boosting housing supply is a panacea for our problems.”

Developers quite likely do throw a few dollars to influence campaigns like “Heritage: Why?” Yet this sort of cui bono positioning – if developers want something, it must be a bad thing – simply eschews the real question of supply-side issues with housing.

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Feature image courtesy of @oamps12 via Unsplash.

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