Gentrification gets a bad rap in the media. For every new wine bar or fromagerie that pops up there's always someone from the socialist co-op yelling about displaced locals and rising rents. This may well be true, but it misses the point.
Gentrification revives faded suburbs, and drags them forward on wings of Aperol Spritz. It brings money, commerce, and fancy poodles into the neighbourhood.
More importantly, it allows the new arrivals to engage in some nuanced social climbing. Forget old money enclaves or white picket suburbia, if you're looking for bourgeoisie cache, a renovated loft on the city fringe is the perfect accompaniment to your Thursday night art launches.
So here's a nod to the urbane charms of gentrification.
1. Everything old is new
Repurposing of old architecture. Chinese dumpling factories and dilapidated mechanics are relics of the past. But their solid brickwork, tight laneways, and historic facades provide the ideal framework for a 'mixed use' residential district. This keeps everyone happy, and means you can talk about the juxtaposition of historical salvaged elements and new design methodology to architects at dinner parties.
2. Designer havens
Bespoke overseas designers. Discounted commercial rents mean any gentrifying area will be awash with obscure Spanish furniture stores selling $20,000 couches. These will be purchased by the creative agencies that have sprung up like mushrooms in the surrounding streets. Is any of this sustainable? Obviously no – but it beats wondering around a suburban homewares centre on weekends.
3. Arty farty
The first sign of urban revitalisation is the emergence of small and obscure art spaces. Cheap rents mean anyone can vomit on a canvas and call it a show. Before you know it you'll have a thriving little arts scene and an influx of wealthy patrons looking to offset their white guilt with extravagant purchases. The coffee shops and apartments come next – in the meantime all the art students have somewhere to drink free booze.
4. Good breeding
An injection of money and professionalism can trigger small, nuanced changes to the urban fabric. Like nice dogs! Poodles, French Bulldogs, and Cavoodles will descend on these neighbourhoods like F45 gyms. This is fine. The alternative is "unsafe" dogs in the suburbs that attack the neighbour's child and end up on A Current Affair.
5. The hipster effect
Mid-century modern revival. The purveyors of these shops find old couches on Gum Tree, clean them up, and resell them to idiots for 1000 x mark-ups. Look out for the $1500 desk lamps your parents threw away about 30 years ago. These are a great 'talking piece' for your cubicle back at work or in the foyer of your new inner city townhouse.
6. Investment potential
Pro-tip, you can buy two single bedroom apartments off the plan and have them converted into a luxury three-bedroom home. This will actually cost you less than buying a three-bedroom place. You can then sit back and light cigars with the money you've saved.
7. Urban planning relief
Only a masochist would voluntarily spend an hour in traffic listening to 'breakfast radio'. Gentrification cleanses urban wastelands like Kings Cross and makes them habitable again, freeing up valuable inner city real estate in the process. If you'd rather live in Parramatta and commute to Sydney proper you can argue with me via @mikolai.
8. Word of mouth
You can't open a Mexican Vietnamese breakfast bar in a normal suburb, because nice middle class families are too busy eating Bunnings sausage sizzles and buying potting mix to support that kind of niche hipster nonsense. So if you've got an exciting new culinary concept you'd like to see franchised, a rapidly gentrifying suburb should be your first port of call.
9. Living on the edge
Gentrification suggests what was before, wasn't necessarily a cornflakes commercial. The right amount of crime can really add to a suburbs appeal. While you work colleagues are talking about dropping the kids off at soccer, you can hold court with harrowing accounts of marauding gangs and crazy people yelling in the street at 3am.
This not only proves your inner city bona fides, it elicits feelings of envy in your co-workers and their boring suburban lives.
Viva la bourgeoisie!
For or against the yuppies moving into your formally affordable neighbourhood? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.