Those who can’t afford, rent.
With so many budding photographers around Australia, it’s surprising the housing affordability conversation is so out of focus. It seems the pressure is on people paying hundreds a week into someone else’s investment, not on those depositing hundreds of thousands into their own investment bricks. While it may not impact the average Joe, nor Jane next door, rental (un)affordability seems to have a greater impact than the housing bubble on everyone’s lips.
One way to compare the pressures faced by renters and buyers is by analysing their decisions, or those they are forced into. This analysis, like a previous article, focuses on small families (couples and single parents) with one or two children. This is mostly to simplify comparisons, looking at a more homogeneous group, rather than drawing conclusions from a wider, more disparate cross-section of the community.
As previously shown, the majority of small families live in homes with a spare bedroom or two. However, a smaller section can’t afford enough bedrooms to go around. For some this means siblings sharing bedrooms, and for a smaller group the parents cohabitate with the kids.
Housing affordability might be affecting buyers and renters, but the figures below show that the pointy end of the rental market pricks more.
Based on 2011 Census data, couples with one child who rent are 8 times more likely to have to share rooms with their child than those who own or are buying their home. For single parents the ratio is 4 to 1. Likewise, families with 2 kids (couples and single parents) who rent are 5 times more likely to make their kids share a room than families who own or are buying.
These families make up a very small proportion of the whole community. But this still affects over 5,400 single-child families living in homes with 1 bedroom or less (studio).
While I personally believe sibling make for great room-mates while growing up, modern Australian culture prefers otherwise, and the decision for kids sharing rooms is shaped somewhat by financial pressures. When parents share a bedroom with their kids, it’s even clearer that financial pressures forced them into an undesired situation.
Whether or not this issue’s media attention is disproportionate overall is a separate question, but perhaps we should pay less attention to those attempting to join the bourgeoisie, and more to the smaller groups facing eviction notices.