Due to rising cost of living spurred on by the over-inflated housing market, Sydneysiders are giving up on the Sydney dream. Sydney has become too expensive for the average Australian. According to the Economist, Sydney is the tenth most expensive city to live in in the world — by far the most expensive Australian city — and is ranked as more expensive than every single city in America.
So what are Sydneysiders saying? Well, a lady by the name of Priscilla Meyer and her young family are giving up on the Sydney dream. She has been living with her husband and toddler at her mother’s house for the past three years in the suburb of Parklea.
Parklea is about 1½ hours from the CBD, depending on how you travel. Due to high property prices and rising cost of living, Priscilla and her family are looking to buy in Melbourne, Victoria, where they can get a house an hour’s drive from the CBD for under $500,000.
Another Sydney resident, David Boyd, was once a high-flying banker. But everything went south when he lost his job during the 2008 global financial crisis. He struggles to find enough money to provide the basics for his 10-year-old daughter, Kali.
He’s currently receiving Centrelink payments, but they’re simply not enough. Almost three quarters of his payments are swallowed up paying the rent for his small two-bedroom flat that he shares with his daughter in Penshurst in Sydney’s south.
His daughter has a skin condition and requires special serums and oils, but these are not covered under the Australian Government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as they are non-prescription.
In March, there will be state elections in New South Wales and parties are making lots of campaign promises to improve housing affordability. But according to the head of the NSW Council of Social Service, Joanna Quilty, these measures will simply not help the people who need help the most.
The New South Wales economy is actually booming at the moment, but public housing is severely lacking. There were 60,000 people waiting for public housing at the end of last financial year, and Ms Quilty has been trying to urge the State Government to do something about it.
With regards to the Federal Government, she states that they really have the power to improve these people’s lives through increased Centrelink payments.
At the Federal level, the Australian Labor Party is promising a review of welfare payments if elected, but has not committed to increasing them. The current government says its focus is on helping unemployed people move into the workforce, but obviously, for a person in the 50s or 60s, this is easier said than done.
Ms Quilty says that the NSW Council of Social Service have undertaken cost of living surveys stating that dental care is by the far most unaffordable essential item.
Priscilla Meyer’s mother, Allison Williams, thinks that her daughter’s generation are more financially stretched than when she was a young parent.
Associate Professor Ben Phillips from Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research & Methods said that NSW standards of living started to plateau around 2013.
Both major parties are making campaign promises to help out cash-strapped Sydneysiders. The Berejiklian Government have been rolling out various schemes such as $300 baby bundles, and free car registration to those who spend $25 or more per week on Sydney toll roads.
The State Opposition are promising to give school children free bus travel, and provide solar panel rebates if elected.
I’d like to finish with a breakdown of what the average Sydneysider actually spends their money on. Between 2008 and 2018, the biggest increase in spending was with medical expenses, which have increased from 2.8% of household income to 4%.
The second biggest increase was with international holidays, which increased from 2.2% in 2008 to 3% of their income.
Household maintenance increased from 2% to 2.7%. Childcare expenses increased from 0.8% to 1.4% of income. And the fifth biggest increase came with restaurant meals, rising from 2.8% to 3.4% of household income.
Although the media have been playing up the cost of energy, which has almost doubled over the last ten years, people are actually using less.
It turns out that petrol prices are lower than they were ten years ago, so not as much household income is being spent on fuel.
Housing is by far the biggest expense, but it turns out due to lower interest rates, it hasn’t jumped as much as other areas.
So there we go. Sydney has become unaffordable for the average Aussie. What are your thoughts? Should people just pack up and move to a cheaper city, leaving their family and friends behind? Or should people force the government to act to stop putting money before people? Or, will Sydney just crash and burn and become Australia’s next ghetto?
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