What Canberrans Want In A Home

So many factors come into the equation when looking for a home. Suburbs, house types, amenities, price ranges, schools, nightlife, space and surroundings are all considerations in the great house-hunt, so we caught up with four home buyers at different stages of life to ask about their purchases, and what influenced their decision.


Ed Timovic – early 20s, single, apartment in Turner

Ed is 23 years old. His most prized possessions are his Oktoberfest stein from Munich, his Bent Spoke membership and his Toyota Hilux. Needless to say, Ed’s the party boy in his family, is currently “in between girlfriends”, and wanted to move out of home to be closer to the action. He’s worked full-time as a carpenter since his late teens in his uncle’s construction company, and to his credit, he’s worked incredibly hard to get himself into the financial position he’s in (even if a fair chunk of his income has been funnelled into Bent Spoke’s running costs).

Ed recently bought a 1 bedroom apartment in the ‘Biarritz’ complex in Turner as his first property, not only to get into the market but also to be immersed in the lifestyle of convenience offered by the Inner North.

“I bought in Turner for the convenience. I’m close to everything and can just walk home after a night out in the city or Braddon. I had enough saved for a 15% deposit on a $400,000 place, and in the end, the apartment was a little over $350,000. I’ll probably stick around here for a few more years yet, keep working and saving and hopefully upgrade to a freestanding house within the next 5-10 years.”

Needs Wants
  Walking distance from Braddon   Quiet street
  Single secure car space   Close to parks
  Budget of $400,000   Gym within complex 

Jacqui Mann – mid-30s, partner, 1 toddler, duplex in Braddon

Jacqui is in her mid-30s and lives with partner, Tom, and 3-year-old son Forrest. Jacqui is the quintessential modern city slicker. A photographer, designer, yoga devotee and coffee-lover, she simply can’t imagine a life away from the city.

Jacqui and Tom recently bought a duplex in Braddon to have some yard space but still be close to the city. A duplex would allow them to have everything on their wishlist that their previous apartment didn’t have.

“We wanted to live close to the city and have room for a baby; we love the lifestyle and the investment opportunities if we were to sell. Our budget was around $700,000, so we were limited to townhouses and duplexes in the area. We’ll probably live where we are for the next 5-10 years unless an awesome opportunity comes up…we may sell or keep our other apartment depending on the market.”

Needs Wants
  Proximity to Braddon and City   Sound investment opportunities
  Yard space   Close to Lonsdale St
  Budget of $700,000   Freestanding house

Nichole Gibb – late 30s, husband, 2 school-aged boys, house in Conder

Nic lives with her two young boys and husband, Tim. To say they are “outdoorsy” would be one of the biggest understatements since Usain Bolt was described as “moderately pacey”. The family owns 2 trailers, 6 motorbikes, multiple pushbikes and scooters and an arsenal of footies, soccer balls and other sports equipment. The access to outdoor recreation in the Lanyon Valley is a major attraction to the Gibbs and forms a large part of why they love the area so much.

They bought a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house opposite a reserve in Conder with 5 living spaces, a double garage and a carport at the side. School and day-care-wise, the family was already set up in Conder, with the boys’ school only 1.5kms away from the house and the Lanyon shops also close by.

“We loved the house, especially the multiple living areas, as we were outgrowing the house we were currently living in, and we need so much space for all the toys! I needed the boys to have their own area to play Xbox/Playstation so I could watch my shows in peace. Our budget was between $500,000 and $600,000, and we were able to find exactly what we needed as we made a great choice in a previous property to be able to have the financial backing to purchase a house in this range.”

Needs Wants
  Multiple segregated living areas   Proximity to parks/reserve
  Heaps of storage space   Lanyon Valley location
  Budget of $500,000-$600,000   Numerous car spaces and off-street parking

John and Kate Murray – early 60s, married couple, 3 adult kids, 4 grandkids, house in Ainslie

John and Kate are both born and bred in Canberra and will have been married for 35 years this October. They brought up their three children in fledgeling Palmerston, who have now all established themselves firmly in the Inner North. Both John and Kate share a deep love of their children, and, if possible, an even deeper love of their grandchildren. Kate has seen each grandchild on most days since they were born, and her life now revolves around spending as much time as possible helping her children raise them.

They recently bought a 2 bedroom house in Ainslie on a huge block of land for $1.21M as it was more affordable than Reid or the southside suburbs they’d been searching in, and it’s only minutes from the Ainslie shops (and their grandchildren!).

“We love everything about the suburb, particularly the Ainslie shops, and we’ll be more central to our kids and grandkids in Dickson, Turner and Lyneham. We can walk the dogs to the Ainslie IGA and the other shops there, as well as all the beautiful parks and little quiet streets around…it’s definitely what we envisaged for our retirement. We’ll probably keep our place in Gungahlin – with the new light rail the rent outlook is pretty good, so we’ll hold onto it for now.”

Needs Wants
  Proximity to children and grandchildren   Fewer rooms
  Inner North location   Large block with huge backyard
  Budget of $1.25M   Easier to maintain

If you’re perhaps vaguely thinking about possibly sometime eventually maybe buying a home, it’s useful to align yourself with those in a similar financial, life and familial situation to yourself – no doubt you’ll find more commonalities than you’d think.

Once you’ve an idea of where you’re at amongst your peers, sit down over a glass of vino with any significant others in your life and physically write out what’s important to you in a home. Dividing your priorities into columns of “need” vs. “want” is a simple and effective way to clearly identify the most important things to you (and your family).

Another idea is to look ahead into your own future and see how it aligns with that of any peers who may have already been there, done that. A strong focus on the future is a recurring theme when discussing home purchases with buyers, so picture where you want to be in 10 years’ time property-wise and figure out how to get there.

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