The rise of studio apartments

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As the population in Australia's cities continues to grow, the demand for studio apartments rises. We take a look at the benefits and challenges of living studio-style.

The rising cost of housing in inner city locations has made downsizing to an apartment is an increasingly popular trendi,ii, particularly in empty nesters and young professionalsiii,i. It coincides with more people living alone and greater amounts of time being spent at work. The side-effect: the demand for one-bedroom and studio apartments is risingiv.

The demand for one-bedroom and studio apartments is rising.

The main difference between a studio and a one-bedroom apartment is that a studio does not have a wall separating the bedroom from other areas of the home: the bedroom, lounge room, and kitchen are all one roomii. The size of studio apartments varies. In populated cities like Sydney and Melbourne, they can get as small as 15sqmv. An apartment this size would generally include a kitchenette and small bathroomvi. However, the City of Sydney now stipulates a minimum unit size of 40sqm for studio apartmentsvii and Melbourne is also looking to set a standard for minimum unit sizeviii.

Despite offering little space, for many first-home buyers, this is an attractive option compared to a house, especially if it means owning a home without sacrificing the benefits that come with being located in the inner cityix. One benefit of studio living is that people don't have to spend as much time maintaining their homes: they can live in an attractive location and enjoy the convenience of being close to work.

Is smaller better?

There are a number of reasons why smaller living spaces are gaining popularity. However, researcher at Swinburne University of Technology's National Centre for Sustainability, Philippa Sutherland, says environmental sustainability is currently not a priority when it comes to designing apartments, which is exacerbating our ecological footprintx.

Apartment living is an increasingly attractive option for young professional and empty nesters.

The issue of liveability is also a challenge for developers. Researchers Bob Birrell and Earnest Healy at Monash University claim the unprecedented surge in high-rise apartments in Melbourne City is threatening the city's liveabilityxi. The researchers claim the rate at which apartments are being developed in Melbourne could undermine a large part of Inner Melbourne's attraction, which is its well-funded infrastructure, public spaces like Federation Square, parks and lanewaysxi.

Despite these challenges, the tussle for space in our cities continues, and small apartments - including studios - are a solution growing in popularity.

iAustralian Bureau of Statistics 2013, 2011 Census QuickStats, viewed on 26 November 2013,

iiSchlesinger, L 2013, 'Demand rising for tiny studio apartments, but mortgage hurdles higher: Aussie John Symond', Property Observer, viewed on 2 December 213,

iiiMcGrath, J 2009, 'The rise of apartment living', Switzer Daily, viewed on 26 November 2013,

ivSchlesinger, L 2012, 'Demand for studio and one-bedroom units to increase as Australians go it alone', Property Observer, viewed on 26 November 2013,

vWalsh, A. 2012, 'Top 10 cheapest studio apartments in the Melbourne CBD, starting from $145,000', Property Observer, viewed on 2 December 2013,$145000/2012081255753

viDobbin, M. 2013, 'Micro living in the big city is not for everyone', The Age, viewed on 2 December 2013,

viiCity of Sydney, Residential Buildings, viewed on 2 December 2013,, p.6

viiiWebb, C. 2013, 'Council considers minimum floor size for city's shrinking apartments', The Age, viewed on 2 December 2013,

ixSorensen, E 2013, 'Living small: micro homes on the rise',, viewed on 26 November 2013,

xSutherland, P 2010, 'How Sustainable is Apartment Living?', Journal of the National Centre for Sustainability, viewed on 26 November 2013,, p.1

xiBirrell, B & Healy, E 2013, 'Dormitory city: Melbourne’s brittle highrise apartment boom ', The Conversation, viewed on 26 November 2013,