There was a time when an apartment was seen by many as either a stepping stone to a house or something to downsize into when the kids left the family home.

Today, however, we’re seeing more people choose apartment living for life – even if that means accommodating a growing family – no matter if your family comprises kids or fur babies.

We look at the growing trend of upsizing in apartments and look at what you need to do if you want a bigger space without moving to a family home.

The joy of apartment living

In Sydney today, the reality is that most first-home buyers who choose to live close to the city centre also choose to live in an apartment. That’s partly because, in our city, the median unit price is significantly below the median house price ($772,807 compared with $1,221,387, according to the latest CoreLogic data).

But we don’t think that’s the only reason so many people choose an apartment for their first home.

When you buy an apartment, you can generally be closer to the action in a great location, such as here in Potts Point. It’s a bit like Sydney’s answer to Soho in terms of lifestyle. That means you’re within walking distance of most things, often including work as well as recreation and parks. This doesn’t just lead to lower transport costs, you’re also likely to be fitter and healthier – and therefore often happier – than if you lived elsewhere.

And, if that’s not enough, you also get the benefit of that ‘lock up and leave it’ lifestyle which doesn’t involve spending weekends mowing the lawn or fixing the house.

The gap between one- two- and three-bedroom apartment values

For an increasing number of people, these benefits seem too good to give up, even when their family starts growing.

But if you’re one of the growing number of people looking to stay put by increasing the floor size of your apartment, you may have to pay more for the privilege. In Sydney’s inner city, there can be a significant gap between apartment values depending on how many bedrooms they have – and a three bedroom unit can cost more than three times what a two bedder does – as the table below shows.

Suburb Median one-bedroom apartment Median two-bedroom apartment Median three-bedroom apartment
Potts Point $770,000 $1.325m $4.7m
Elizabeth Bay $840,000 $1.965m n/a
Darlinghurst $780,000 $1.41m $3m
Woolloomooloo $850,000 $1.49m n/a
Darling Point $1.325m $1.888m $4.3m

Lack of stock and luxury the issues

But at the same time, this table doesn’t necessarily tell the full story.

The reality is that there simply aren’t that many three-bedroom apartments in our area. Just 15 sold in Potts Point last year, according to Domain. This naturally means that demand for them stays high.

Also, a reasonable number of three-bedroom apartments fall into the prestige category – they’re possibly penthouses or sub-penthouses. This naturally boosts values for three-bedders well beyond smaller apartments.

So, if you are looking to stay put and you need at least three bedrooms, it often helps to have a healthy budget.

Making more space

That said, an increasing number of families are choosing to upsize without having to buy a three-bedder. They’re doing this by buying an apartment with the potential to renovate to maximise space.

This usually means engaging an architect to help create multifunctional spaces that can operate in multiple ways – for instance – as a living area by night and work area by day. It can also mean using techniques such as loft beds to maximise the available floor space in bedrooms or creating nooks throughout the apartment where people can go to escape and have some privacy.

For those with bigger budgets, another approach that’s on the rise is to combine more than one apartment into a grander living space. For instance, last year, we had the pleasure of selling a residence in the Seidler-designed Horizon Building that combined two apartments into an impressive three-bedroom, three-bathroom residence with commanding views across Sydney Harbour.

The property was in such high demand that the sale set a building record.

Developers are also catching on, and over time, we hope to see more large units hit the market to satisfy the enormous demand. A recent example is the release of 29 Billyard Ave, which offers a rare breed of spacious four-bedroom apartments, complete with luxury finishes and harbour views.

Want more?

With property prices relatively high and more people prizing lifestyle above all else, upsizing into apartments is likely to become a growing trend over the next few years.

If you’re interested in how to do it in Potts Point and Sydney’s Inner Eastern Suburbs contact my team today.

Article by Jason Boon

In a real estate market that is the focus of Australian, and indeed worldwide attention, Jason Boon's results in the Sydney scene make him a highly significant figure within the industry. A long-term specialist in the Potts Point and inner eastern suburbs area, he is uniquely placed to leverage his skills and local knowledge as the area undergoes significant change and diversification. Jason ha…