Well-known demographer Bernard Salt believes in a phenomenon called the “goat cheese curtain”. It’s the suburbs where there’s a propensity for goat cheese rather than fast food, you see.
Just like his infamous “avocado on toast” comment, Salt sure likes a good food metaphor when talking about the property market.
This time, though, it’s not about frustrated would-be first home buyers; it’s about the locations where people will always desire to live and are happy to pay a premium to do so.
Salt, who heads up The Demographics Group, said the goat cheese curtain was a demographic phenomenon that kicked off about the turn of the 21st century in Australia.“It’s the ‘hipster suburbanista’ that we’re seeing emerge and it’s quite universal in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane,” Salt said.“
There’s a tribe emerging in the inner city. It’s doesn’t have to be young, it’s often highly educated and well remunerated, often green-voting, an articulate knowledge worker, less likely to have children and much less likely to believe in God, dominated by people in their 20s and 30s but there is a still a group of people – downshifters if you like – who sell their suburban home and move in to the city fringe to live that lifestyle.”
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He said demand for inner-city living in Brisbane would go the same way as its dwellings in the years ahead: up. Sydney and Melbourne had a head start on the Queensland capital, he said, but inner Brisbane was fast developing a palate for lifestyle living.
“Brisbane is following the same trajectory. It’s just maybe 10 or 15 years behind the movement but closing the gap very quickly,” he said.
“There’s been quite a transformation and you can see that in the developments that have taken place, in West End in particular. There is a whole demographic that wants that inner-city lifestyle and developers are only too happy to rise to meet the challenge.
“I think there is certainly a period where supply might get out of whack with demand, but over the longer term, the amount of developable sites in the inner city is limited and there will be a greater amenity placed on inner-city living in 10 years time than there is a today. That’s the bottom line.”
West End agent Adam Nobel shifted from Melbourne to Brisbane 20 years ago and has witnessed its transformation first hand.
When he left Melbourne, it was “yuppies” who were the trendsetters, he said, and now the latest collective noun to describe groovy individuals has set its sights on inner-city suburbs.
However, older people were also shifting in from outer suburbs, too, he said.
“They want to be able to walk to dinner, have some wine, walk back and be spoiled for choice,” Nobel said.
“They’ve got proximity to QPAC, South Bank, all the restaurants, bars, and cafes. Everything is here. It’s always going to be an attractive proposition.
“For younger people, there is also that sense of belonging in an environmentally conscious community.”
And as someone who had moved from Melbourne to Brisbane, he said Salt’s comment that the Sunshine State capital was a decade or more behind southern capitals wasn’t mean, it was just true.
“The whole coffee culture took off in the mid-90s in Melbourne,” Nobel said.
“Now that has really taken off in the past few years in Brisbane, and I think it’s only going to increase. There’s only going to be more and more, and West End is definitely the capital of culture in Brisbane. That’s how I feel about it.”