“Live in poverty close to the city, or move further out and spend hours commuting.”
Let’s play a game of “Would You Rather?”
Like you used to play in high school. You know, like, “Would you rather accidentally catch your parents having sex, or have to jump in a cage full of piranhas?”
That is what the rental situation in Australian cities is beginning to feel like. Only this time, we’re choosing between long and expensive commutes to work, or workshopping dinners based on baked beans six nights a week. Poor or far. Pick your poison.
And Sydney is the toughest of the lot. That was the bottom line of the Sydney Morning Herald article this morning discussing the outrageous rental prices in inner-city Sydney. Hardly inspiring, the article confirms what I have long suspected: it’s not me, it’s them.
After spending around six years renting in Melbourne, the prices of similar housing here in Sydney was a shock to the system. At almost twice the price of what I was paying before, it wasn’t really clear what the price hike was about. Was it because we were closer to the equator? Were there flecks of gold available for sifting in a backyard stream? Wait, did we even have a backyard?
Like most of our Aussie cities, the inner city housing was typified by old (“character-filled”) multi-story houses — think rambling terraces with slightly musty bathrooms and dark bedrooms, pokey kitchens, and tiny staircases that make visually impaired people like myself clammy with fear.
Unlike most, however, these houses weren’t occupied by Arts students and freelance writers; rather, Sydney’s professionals were residing here. You know, the fancy people. Rent increases were pushing the Audi drivers out of their polished-wood-and-stainless-steel apartments of the CBD, and into the older houses of the inner suburbs.
“If they need to live close to the inner city, they have to put more than 60 per cent of their income towards rent, leaving them in severe housing stress which is defined as spending more than 30 per cent of total income on housing.” – Sydney Morning Herald.
Um, if spending 30% of your hard earned bones on a roof over your head equals ‘severe housing stress’, then what does it mean to spend 60% of your cash? Self-implosion?