This study investigates changing housing and lifestyle preferences that occur when young people migrate from compact, high-density to low-density, car-oriented environments, through in-depth interviews of East and Southeast Asian university students in Brisbane, Australia. The findings reveal that the majority of international students adapt to their new living environment, and even come to prefer a low-density lifestyle and associated positive features (such as higher affordability, privacy, open space, and peacefulness). While this is positive in terms of their personal adjustment and outcomes, it raises concerns in terms of urban sustainability. It may indicate that given the opportunity most people find a suburban, car-oriented lifestyle desirable, and planning systems need to reconcile majority preferences with sustainability concerns. However, the study also reveals that a portion of the international students continue to prefer a high-density urban form. People in this group dislike the long commutes, spread out services, high transport costs, automobile dependence, quietness, and social isolation associated with a suburban lifestyle, and continue to seek urban forms that are similar to their previous environments in Asia. This demand lends hope to the prospect of further densification and revitalisation of Australian inner city districts.
- Jack Kerstens
- Dorina Pojani
Read the press release on the UQ News page: www.uq.edu.au/news/node/122225
Some of the paper’s findings were also featured in the popular press:
Such important research. Seems the challenge of lifestyle preference is more complex than a simple density increase in the city. Perhaps the suburbs can be sustainability solutions. Check out Brolga Lakes on the north side of Brisbane as a future suburb (totally off-grid). And, Pat Troy’s work on the Perils of Urban Consolidation.