What does apartment living look like in 2019?

For most Australians who live in an apartment, the experience is pretty similar across the board.

You come home to your building, which is hopefully in decent repair and well presented – although perhaps a little old-fashioned.

You go through a small, unassuming foyer and climb the stairs up to your apartment. The apartment itself has been renovated a bit since it was first built, but it’s still got an outdated layout; that boxed-in kitchen which isn’t very convenient for entertaining or watching the kids while you put on dinner. Windows that could be bigger to bring in more light and views.

If it’s a newer building, you may have a lift, an open-plan layout, and hopefully, an ensuite for the master bedroom. If you’re lucky, you might even have a pool or a gym in the basement. However, neither of these are likely nice enough to allow you to quit your gym membership any time soon.

But despite all this, you love living in your apartment, because it’s so close to buses, trains, shops, restaurants, bars or your work. You barely use your car, you don’t have to do any gardening or worry about any maintenance.

It’s also much more affordable than living in a house on the same street or in the same suburb.

78% growth of apartment households in Australia

The many benefits of apartment living are making this type of housing more popular than ever before.

According to the latest Census, over the past 25 years, the number of occupied apartments in Australia has increased by 78%. Nearly half of these (47%) are in New South Wales, followed by Victoria (23%) and Queensland (17%), mostly concentrated in the capital cities.

With the significant uptake of apartment living, we have also seen many new apartment buildings spring up in our major cities in recent years – though, it’s safe to say, not all of them are created equal.

Amongst the many ‘cookie-cutter’ apartments on offer, there are some that stand out, not simply for the design, detail and quality of the apartment itself, but also for the experience offered holistically for residents within the entire building.

Apartment living redefined

Some of the best developers in Brisbane, for example, are redefining the concept of apartment living. Gone are the days where there were either no resident’s facilities, or just a small pool or gym.

Not only is greater attention paid to the apartments themselves; light, bright, architecturally designed spaces with contemporary lifestyles in mind. The building itself is designed to enable residents to enjoy a 5-star hotel experience.

Our Ironfish Sydney teams took a tour this week of Gurner’s recently completed ‘FV No 1’ apartment building in the Brisbane suburb of Fortitude Valley. An area set for gentrification along the lines of Sydney’s Surry Hills or Kings Cross – with FV itself spearheading much of this change.

Gurner is a brand which exudes luxury, premium, elegance, so before arriving at FV No 1, we were expecting something special. But being able to view the completed building for ourselves provided an insight into how this luxury experience will work in practice for the future residents of the building.

On site at FV No. 1

Setting the scene at ground level at FV No. 1 is the opulent, hotel-like foyer, with private entrance through to ‘Foresters Restaurant & Bar’ a new curated bar and dining experience. On the rooftop at level 6 is the Altitude bar – set to be the ‘Ivy’ of Brisbane’s bar and dining scene.

The foyer is staffed by the Peppers (property management) Concierge who can facilitate resident’s requests, from dry cleaning to valet parking – much like a hotel, all is possible. And, whether you’re in a one-bedroom or the penthouse, you can enjoy the same 5-star experience.

Upstairs on Level 6, the entire floor is dedicated to exclusive facilities, including a stunning pool, gardens and free, bookable private cinema room. The gym is spacious, with top-end equipment. Yoga classes run in the adjacent yoga studio and a personal trainer can be booked on request. Time to cancel the gym membership.

A special highlight are the private spa rooms, which residents can book for private use or even private parties. The rooms enjoy nice indoor-outdoor flow and are equipped with a flatscreen TV and wine fridge. It can be fully catered by Peppers, or you can bring in your own food and drinks.

Also available for residents is the Business Club, which includes bookable boardrooms, and hot desks equipped with the latest Macs. Residents can book these for free via a convenient app. Freelancers could effectively run a small business, receive and entertain clients all without leaving their home, or paying an additional $450 / month for a Wework hot desk.

FV No 1 residents enjoy further exclusive rooftop facilities – a jaw-dropping wrap-around infinity pool, sun loungers, spa, BBQ areas – all with quite possibly, the best views of the city.

Inside the apartments themselves, natural light abounds through floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer views of the city or hinterland. The quality of the finishes is a stand out; thick, white stone benchtops, luxury tapware, integrated study nooks, floor-to-ceiling glazing and beautiful lighting.

The verdict was clear from our visit – this is an enviable place to live, work and play, and for an investor, its appeal to a premium tenant is obvious.

Of course, premium generally comes with a price tag, and if such an apartment lifestyle was on offer in Sydney, it would be unaffordable for the vast majority of buyers. In Brisbane, however, the price tag can start below $400,000. As Fortitude Valley is at the beginning of its gentrification process, with government spending in place to redevelop the nearby train station ($500 million) and a new high-tech vertical school for the suburb currently under construction – in our experience, there are all the right signals for future potential as well.

Buying off the plan – render vs reality

The fact is, buying off-the-plan can offer much uncertainty to an inexperienced investor around the quality of the finished property. If you’re buying a property before it’s built, how do you know if it’s going to deliver on your expectations? Is it going to be well-built, is it really going to be as beautiful as it looks in the rendersin the brochure?

This uncertainty is one of the reasons why we do what we do here at Ironfish; to help investors or even first home buyers, review new properties on the market, to find one that really stands out for its quality, design, and future potential.

Many, many factors go into our property selection process, so that we can provide more of this kind of certainty to our buyers.

We also ensure our teams get to experience the finished result of the quality of the off the plan properties we have recommended to our investors, like FV No 1. It can also help our strategists to pass on this feedback personally to our investors who may live interstate and are unable to fly over to experience it for themselves.

If your experience or understanding of apartment living in Australia looks and sounds more like the first description than the description of FV No. 1, we highly recommend you take a look firsthand if you are next in Brisbane. It’s easy to say that apartment living has changed radically, and for the better. But seeing, as they say, is believing.

All properties Ironfish recommends to investors undergo a rigorous selection and due diligence process. If you’d like more information about properties, like FV No. 1, please register to access our selected properties list.


Photos: courtesy Gurner

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