05.08.2024 Local News

Which Generation Dominates In Your Suburb?

Which Generation Dominates In Your Suburb?

Which generation lives in your suburb?

We look at how Gen Y became dominant across the Eastern Suburbs with a couple of notable exceptions…

An analysis of 2021 Census data by the Sydney Morning Herald found that Baby Boomers – the largest cohort in more than half of Sydney’s suburbs in 2011 – are no longer Sydney’s dominant demographic.

In fact, while “boomers” once made up the majority in 184 out of 323 suburbs, that figure plummeted to 88 in the last census. They’ve been replaced by Gen Y (also known as Millennials), who are now the largest cohort in 168 suburbs (up from just 33 in 2011).

The data is collated based on suburb population (not homeownership – but simply who lives in the area), so it includes both renters and property owners.

In almost every suburb here in Sydney’s east, we’ve also seen a shift from Baby Boomers to Gen Y becoming the dominant demographic.

We spotlight how the generations are represented and have changed over the past 13 years in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.

But first, how are the generations defined?

The last Census, conducted on the night of 10 August 2021, recorded a total of 25,422,788 people living in Australia.

ABS data showed that in 2021, Gen Y and Baby Boomers were close to equally matched in terms of numbers (both accounted for 21.5% of the population at the 2021 census). However, while Baby Boomers are slowly declining in numbers as they age, Gen Y’s numbers are actually rising due to immigration.

Sitting in the middle of these two generations is Gen X. They were long known as the ‘forgotten generation’ for their smaller numbers, thanks to lower birth rates in the late 60s and 70s. In 2021, they comprised 19.3% of the population.

Now, however, Gen Z (born between 1996 and 2010 and often the children of Gen X) is smaller still, making up just 18.2% of the population. Although, as with Gen Y, immigration could potentially increase numbers in this demographic in future years.

The emerging demographic of children, dubbed Gen Alpha, also comprises 12%.

Meanwhile, the oldest generation (above Baby Boomers), known as the “interwar” or “silent generation”, made up 7.5% of the population in 2021.

Here’s a snapshot of the 2021 breakdown:

Generation Birth year Age in 2021 % of population
Interwar 1945 or earlier 75+ 7.5%
Baby Boomer 1946-1965 55-74 21.5%
Gen X 1966-1980 40-54 19.3%
Gen Y (Millennial) 1981-1995 25-39 21.5%
Gen Z 1996-2010 10-24 18.2%
Alpha 2011+ 0-9 12%

So what’s happening in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs?

A changing of the guard in Woollahra and Paddington

These two coveted parkside suburbs reflect a trend we’re seeing right across the East, where Gen Y is becoming the dominant generation.

Between 2011 and 2016, Paddington went from Gen X-dominated to Gen Y. Woollahra transformed from Baby Boomers to Gen Y between 2016 and 2021.

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Interestingly, this change seems to be occurring at different rates in different suburbs. Paddington’s transformation had already occurred by 2016, while it took until 2021 for Woollahra to follow suit (completely skipping poor old Gen X in the process).

Inner East sees Gen Y replace Gen X

Demographers highlighted that in the decade between 2011 and 2021, Generation Y (Millennials) left their childhood homes in the suburbs and gradually moved to the inner city.

Our observation is that Gen Y also seems to be attracted to suburbs with a high proportion of entry-level properties, such as apartments and smaller houses, often due to cost – but also because they often prize walkability and action over space.

As a result, Gen Y has taken over from Gen X and is now the dominant generation in almost all inner eastern suburbs, including Redfern, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Potts Point, and Wolloomooloo.

Baby boomers only dominate harbourside suburbs

Back in 2011, baby boomers were the dominant demographic across the Eastern Suburbs. Now, they’re only the majority in a handful of exclusive harbourside locations: Watsons Bay, Vaucluse, Rose Bay, and Bellevue Hill. They also hold the title further south, in South Coogee.

This is partly due to cost, as younger generations often lack pockets deep enough for blue-chip suburbs such as Bellevue Hill or Vaucluse, where median house prices run over $9 million.

That said, many Baby Boomers have also downsized over the past decade, capitalising on the growth their properties have experienced and seeking smaller, low-maintenance properties in other areas.

Gen X holding onto tight in Dover Heights and Maroubra

According to the 2021 data, Gen X is also only dominant in two suburbs: Dover Heights and Maroubra.

This is a vast change from 2011, when Gen X made up the majority of the population across all the Eastern Beaches, including Bondi, Coogee, Bondi Junction, Waverley, and Randwick. They were also dominant in much of the inner East, from Paddington, Double Bay, and Darling Point to Potts Point, Surry Hills, and Redfern.

But rather than moving on and moving out, Gen X’s reign may have been short simply because there are fewer of them.

What comes next?

As we approach another Census in 2026 and Gen Z grows up, we expect to see further patterns emerge.

Right now, the oldest Gen Zers are still only 26 years old, only dominant in areas of Sydney’s West and South West.

It will be interesting to see what impact a rising population and the current housing crisis will have on these demographic changes in the coming years, too.

Want more?

Contact our team today to find out more about how we can help you buy and sell in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.