4 to a home versus 3 to a home, the significance?

I read an interesting article by Datuk Alan Tong in TheStar. Do read for more understanding and knowledge about his latest thought about property market Malaysia. One significant point is that Malaysia still have 4 persons to a home today. I think based on how I look at our family relationships here in Malaysia, 4 to a household is true for a long time more. Based on a home of a recently graduated professional who is still working in his hometown, the household should still have 4 if not more. The parents and a few siblings. Based on the home of a couple with a new baby, the household would usually still have 4. The baby sitter, the kid and the couple. As for working adults who do not have kids and staying within the city centre, the home may still have 4 people. It’s possible to just rent out one or two rooms to lessen the mortgage payments significantly while turning that ‘liability’ into an asset.

This would however change in the future when the fertility rate continues to fall. As for marriage, even if people are getting married ever later in their lives, I guess this is not the only reason for people to stay together under the same home. The current fertility rate for a woman (15-49 years old) is 2.0 This is an average number. It is true for my wife, as at today. 🙂  So, for our little family, it is 4 to a home. Generally a home in Malaysia even as at today is still big enough to accommodate 4 if not more people. Even the affordable homes from both the private and government sponsored ones are still above 800 sf today. I stayed with my wife, my brother-in-law and even my sister for many years in my 730 sq ft home in Penang. In the near future, perhaps it would get harder. I am talking about 20 years down the road when the new homes within the city is built ever smaller. Hopefully not as small as those in Hong Kong. 

Datuk Alan Tong mentioned that Australia has an average population of 2.6 per household and the UK is at 2.4 per household. I think this is already reflect that demographics change in Australia. Fertility rate of Australia as at 2015 is at 1.8 which is 10% lower than that of Malaysia today but it (fertility rate) has been below 2.0 since 1977.. 🙂  In 1977, I was born. If our current fertility rate stays the same, my guess is we may be looking at an average population of 3 per household only when we reach 2035, perhaps? That’s also when Malaysia turns into an ageing nation. The United Nation is predicting that Malaysia’s national fertility rate to drop to 1.91 by 2020. In terms of just the Chinese population, the fertility rate is already at 1.4 in 2015. My sister has a son and has said that perhaps he is enough for them (she and hubby). My wife has informed me that two is already a very GOOD number for her. Well…

A changing demographics would also change the future homes being built. There is really no need for 800 plus sq ft anymore if the home is just to accommodate 3 person or fewer. In fact with singles getting more common and couples getting married ever later, perhaps a SOHO or smaller is all we need? Truth is, with prices per sq ft getting ever higher year after year, the only hope for these younger population is to buy smaller. Or would future homes be built based on the changing household composition of Malaysia? Only time will tell but if we look to Hong Kong for some clues, well sizes go smaller, prices stay almost affordable. Yes, perhaps staying further will be even more true in the near future. By the way, in order for the population to grow, we need a fertility rate of 2.2, else we would need to take in lots of non-Malaysians like our neighbour or even Australia and many other advanced nations.

written on 11 Sept 2017

Next suggested article: Demographics Malaysia and property demand

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