Post 5: Approaches to design for change, design-led ethnography
After reading online articles and academic papers by individuals heavily involved in or immersed in the issue of housing affordability, it was interesting to gain insight into someone else’s perspective, and especially someone who wasn’t born and raised in Australia. The questions I asked aimed to gauge her level of understanding on the topic along with her assumptions, observations, experiences and personal thoughts.
One surprising opinion I gained from the interviewee was that she thought it was actually quite easy to gain access to a bank loan in order to purchase your own home; this is something that isn’t common through reading articles, which generally pitch the housing situation to be quite dire and difficult to get into for the millennial generation. However one article which I read and analysed in blog post 1 seems to reflect the same idea, that it isn’t that hard to get your foot into the door of the housing market. Without even realising, the interviewee and her friends have a joint-ownership on their property in terms of pooling together funds, which makes owning a house much more affordable.
The transcript of the interview can be read below:
What are your impressions of the housing situation in Australia?
I’ve heard the term before but I don’t know much about it. What I hear is that there are too many people coming into Australia, and that we don’t have enough houses for them so the price of houses go up. Whenever there is a sale, things are sold out quickly.
What is your current housing situation?
Currently I live in an apartment in the city. It’s a three bedroom apartment that I’m renting from a friend, and I also share it with three other friends. We split rent.
Do you feel a strong need to become a home owner in the next five years?
I think in the end, within the next five years, I’ll have to find a house. I think it’s better to live in one, somewhere not too far from the city, but a nicer environment that is not so busy. I feel it’s more stable to buy a house rather than an apartment, and rather than paying rent each month.
Are there any expectations you have of your first house?
I’m still an international student and don’t know much about the situation in each suburb…but I’d want a location that is close to a supermarket, restaurants and shopping centres. Maybe like Parramatta. Definitely not Chatswood though because I heard it’s so much more expensive. Blacktown could be good too because most of my friends live there.
Do many of your friends own a house?
My friends tell me that it’s actually quite easy to purchase a house here, as long as you have a job and you just borrow a bit of money from the bank. But he told me that the debt won’t be payed off for thirty years, that aside, I understand it is quite easy but that’s maybe from an international perspective.
What suburbs do they buy into and why?
Most of my friends live in Glenfield, it’s quite far from the city but it’s cheap there. They all live together to pool funds. One of my friends are planning to buy a newly built house in Blacktown…I heard it’s not too safe of an area but they opened some really awesome luxury houses within a big park that used to be a golf course. However I think you need a car to buy that car, and that the cheaper price difference is due to the distance from the city. Most of my friends in Glenfield live quite far from the station so they end up having to buy a car. The bus station is far too so they don’t have much of a solution.
In terms of what you understand, are there any solutions that come to mind when it comes to housing affordability?
I don’t really know the main problems in housing affordability, but I think it’s maybe the government that doesn’t manage the housing so well. They should come up with a policy to limit the international buyers who don’t even live in the property, or maybe they can build more houses. The government makes it easy to invest.
The probe I constructed for my interviewee required her to ask different people she knew in the 18-25 age range a set of questions on their age, occupation, where they currently live, where they’d want to live and why, and how close these suburbs were to Sydney CBD. The aim of my probe was to gauge a general opinion on why they’d want to live in a particular area. The results are shown below:
A few general things I noted from the probe were that all participants would like to live within the 20km radius of Sydney CBD, but none of them wanted to live in the actual heart of the city for preference of a little more personal space. While nobody mentioned anything to do with how much the average property in the area would cost and if that was an issue, they prefer locations which are convenient in terms of travelling time and suburbs close to shopping districts which generally mean a higher average house price.
Just like with the interview, the probe itself provided insight into a group of people’s preferences which allowed me to make some general assumptions of the cohort. However in terms of where my interests lie, I feel like I should have included questions which evoke a more emotional response, possibly asking participants to rate their satisfaction of the suburb on a scale which can later be expressed in a more engaging visual way. As a probe, it was a quick and easy task for the interviewee to do, however the questions lacked depth and I didn’t gain any extremely surprising responses.
Five Point Summary
- Majority of people interviewed in the probe wanted to live within a 20km radius of the city.
- Convenience in terms of transport times and vicinity to essential services such as supermarkets was a big factor in choosing where people wanted to live.
- Even though my interviewee wasn’t highly knowledgeable on the topic of housing affordability, she showed awareness of how to make it easier when it comes to lessening the financial burden of owning a house.
- In relation to my academic sources, possibly the above point does raise a deeply imbedded attitude issue in Generation Y.
- When it comes to probes in the future, think up more provoking questions that will allow me to gauge a deeper understanding of how people feel.
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