McKinnon Poll: Understanding attitudes towards housing in Australia

25 October 2023

The housing crisis in Australia has reached a critical juncture, marked by a growing divide between the demand for affordable and suitable housing and the available supply. Amidst increasing cost-of-living pressures, it’s a timely moment for policymakers to gain a deeper understanding of Australian sentiments towards housing.


In 2021, The Susan McKinnon Foundation funded the newDemocracy Foundation to conduct three polls and examine how systemic, high quality opinion polling could have an impact on or improve the quality of public policy decision making in Australia (the Pilot). Building on this work, in 2022 the Foundation commenced an extended pilot in partnership with JWS Research to further test the capacity of non-partisan and non-advocacy focused opinion research to support more informed public policy debates and better decision making by government (the Extended Pilot).

The McKinnon Poll combines qualitative in-depth expert interviews and focus group discussions, as well as a quantitative online national survey of 3,000 Australian adults.

Through this rigorous methodology, the program aims to encourage better policymaking by providing a richer and more in-depth understanding of public opinion as an input into the policymaking process.

Our first poll focused on public attitudes to social support in Australia, with a focus on aged care, the NDIS and childcare. The second one looked at views on electoral reform, while the third examined attitudes towards employment in Australia.

Research scope

Our recent McKinnon Poll research delves into public sentiment, housing priorities, trade-offs, the realities of renting, and the willingness of Australians to embrace change in their local communities.

Furthermore, this research explores attitudes regarding planning and development, encompassing a wide range of policy responses at all government levels in Australia.

These findings offer crucial insights into the Australian housing landscape and contribute to an evidence base that policymakers can draw upon when addressing the ongoing housing crisis.

Research insights

From a national survey of n=3000 Australians (> 18 y.o.) conducted in August 2023, key findings include:

  • More than three quarters of Australians (77%) are satisfied with their current home, although this drops to 61% among the 31% of Australian adults who are currently renters.
  • Most Australian households consist of close to three people and three bedrooms. Almost half of adults (47%) live in homes with more bedrooms than residents, significantly more among Post-War (79%) and Boomers (69%).
  • In contrast to older generations, younger generations – particularly Gen Z, but also Millennials are open to flats or apartments (3, 8 and 9+ stories) being built in their local areas.
  • Almost 6 in 10 current renters (59%) are satisfied with their rental experience. The conditions / quality of the rental has the greatest influence on driving overall satisfaction with their experience.
  • 1 in 10 Australian homeowners (11%) have access the ‘bank of Mum and Dad’ in the form of a gift or loan and this rises to 21% among Millennials.
  • Three quarters of non-homeowners (76%) would like to own their own home, most within the next five years (49%). Only 45%, however, believe it will be likely that they will in fact to do.
  • Gen Z non-homeowners are most likely to want to own their own home (93%), but there is a 30-point gap between those who think it likely (63%).
  • Inflation / the rising cost of living, interest rates and the cost of building materials are most likely associated with having a major influence on housing affordability in Australians’ city or region.
  • Only one in five Gen Z and Millennials (19%) say they have not had the timing of major life decisions affected due to the cost of housing. Key events being impacted include travelling, changing jobs or careers, moving to a different location, moving out of home and having (more) children.
  • Only 50% of Australians with a mortgage and not yet retired expect to have their mortgage paid off by the time they retire. Only 21% of current renters who hope to become homeowners expect to have their mortgage paid off.
  • Three in ten current renters (31%) expect to still be renting upon retirement and this increases to 71% among Boomers.

Research reports and materials

Further in-depth details, findings and insights relating to housing have been shared with relevant stakeholders, including Members of Parliament, government agencies and other interest groups.

All research outputs are now available for download:

  • Media Announcement here.
  • Full research report here.
  • Summary research presentation here.
  • Data set arising from the research here.
  • Research quantitative survey here.

Media contact: Charlie Moore 0452 606 171.

Details, findings and insights relating to the Extended Pilot will be published in due course.