The Unreliable Guide To… Stay-at-Home Kids
If you’re twenty-something in the Eastern Suburbs, you probably can’t afford to buy your own place unless your folks are rich and generous. Even renting may be an impossibility, which may make you feel like a failure. After all, it’s likely that your parents and grandparents own at least one property. They might blame your failure to leap onto the property ladder on your addiction to getting the latest iPhone or the cash you blow each weekend, but don’t believe the hype. Carry on spending, guys, because you’ll never be able to afford your own place unless your olds croak or you win Lotto. Let’s see why…
Castles in the air
In 1977, a 3-bedroom house in Bondi cost $31,000, and the average yearly wage was $9,256, or 30 per cent of the cost of a house. Manageable, right? No wonder they all believed in the quarter acre block with the Hills Hoist. Now, the average house in Bondi is $2.1 million, of which the current $84,600 average wage is a pitiful 4 per cent. It gets worse. Grattan Institute economist Danielle Wood calculates that the government’s figures on ‘average wage’ are a rort – a far more accurate measure is the median tax filer’s income, which is just under $45,000. If you could save every cent of that by camping illegally in the forest and foraging berries it would take you 47 years to get to $2.1 million. So, kids, you won’t be buying anytime soon.
Renting is un-Australian
Since I arrived here, I’ve heard countless people say that it’s vital to get on the property ladder. This idea is reinforced by programs like The Block, currently one of Australia’s favourite shows. In Europe and New York, housing has long been unaffordable, so people don’t feel like a failure if they rent. This attitude should apply here, more so because local rents are some of the highest in the world. If you can afford to rent a place around here, then believe me, you are one of life’s winners. According to realestate.com.au, the average weekly apartment rental in Bondi is $1,250 a week, which is $65,000 a year. Face it, if you’re on a typical young person’s wage then you’re stuck at home for the foreseeable future. That’s if you’re lucky – if not you might end up on the street as one of the estimated 105,000 homeless Australians. The Lucky Country, eh?
Is property theft?
Marx might have been onto something. Shelter is a basic human need, so overpriced property maintains capitalism, keeping us running in that economic wheel like good little rats. To avoid debt stress, it’s recommended we spend no more than 30 per cent of our income on housing. If you’re our median-earning Jo with his $45,000 a year, that means you have $260 a week to spend on rent. I had a look on the website flatmates.com, and in Bondi that will just about get you a bed in a shared room. Let’s hope your roomie doesn’t snore and you don’t have kids. This unaffordability is why the young sales assistant I spoke to in Westfield Bondi Junction lives in Parramatta, a commute of two hours. She travels 24 hours each week for a $20 per hour job and has $210 a week, after tax, to spend on rent. How has this become normal?
Finally, The Unreliable Guide suggests you give up on this whole nonsense. If the cards are stacked against you, go play a different game. Don’t cripple yourself with endless debt, remember the ‘mort’ in ‘mortgage’ comes from the Latin for ‘death’. Spend your money on living instead – travel, buy all the gadgets you’ve ever wanted, take drugs… I don’t care, whatever floats that boat. Live in the moment, because the future has already been auctioned off.