THE great Australian dream of owning a home is alive and well, with the majority of Australians prioritising this dream far above getting married and having children.
According to Westpac's home ownership report conducted in July this year, owning a home or paying off a home sooner are the top priorities for 57 per cent of Australians who already have a home or are planning to buy within the next 12 months.
At the other end of the scale is finding Mr or Ms Right and becoming a parent with having children and getting married rated at 8 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.
Gen Y women in particular place a strong priority on home ownership with 49 per cent listing home ownership as a top lifetime goal, while having children and getting married rate at 14 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.
Westpac's head of home ownership Melanie Evans said there were several reasons for the large gap between lifestyle priorities.
"Owning a home is a tangible dream we have some control over," she said.
"People also find a strong sense of identity in owning a home and enjoy a huge amount of financial security.
"Homes are not only a place to live but a great investment and we place a large sum of net worth in them.
"Together, this identity and security can be big emotional drivers for wanting to own a home."
Ms Evans said another reason why owning a home was such a high lifestyle priority was that the social fabric of society was changing.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Australian Social Trends, March quarter 2012 report, the median age for first marriages for men and women increased by more than three years between 1990-2010.
The median age of first-time mothers has also changed between 1990-2010, increasing from 27.5 to 28.9 years.
"With a young, well-educated workforce with great earning potential, owning a home is now an affordable option at all lifestyle stages," Ms Evans said.
Mechanic Greg Matthews, 26, is one of this young workforce who has just bought a three-bedroom home for $350,500 at Doolandella, in Brisbane's western suburbs.
He plans to move to the home in December with his girlfriend when his contract settles.
"I've always been wise with my money and after travelling for awhile, I thought I'd buy a home," he said.
"It took me about three years to save the money for the deposit and I had shares my parents bought me as well."
After considering the state of the real estate market, Mr Matthews said he was particularly keen to buy a home.
"I thought it was better to get in now while interest rates are low and prices are good, especially in places like Doolandella," he said.
"After renting for years in Indooroopilly, it will be good to have a space of my own.
"The mortgage might stop me from travelling or a big social life but it will be worth it."