Is housing really unaffordable? Sure it’s increasingly expensive in the inner/fashionable suburbs (I should know, I’m paying for it), but that’s all about choice. More and more people are choosing particular suburbs, driving the prices up. From yesterday’s Age:
“While the family, now based in St Kilda East, could afford to buy a home further from the city, Mrs Porter said the long commute, the cost of another car and the social isolation were too high a price.”
But go to the outer burbs, and there’s no shortage of housing. My mate Peter recently noted (not online) that there are plenty of houses for $150-200K, with most of those being in the suburbs more than 30km from the CBD, and beyond walking-distance to suburban shopping centres and decent public transport. They sit on the market for months at a time, with auctions often attracting no serious bidders.
A quick search of the Real Estate web sites shows he’s right. If you’re prepared to put up with a lengthy commute to the CBD, paying for one car per adult, probably isolation from your friends and family (unless they’re willing to move down your way too), and being without the cafe lifestyle, it seems there’s no shortage of housing that’s affordable to people (especially couples) on average incomes.
So with the politicians claiming to want to fix things, what can they really do? Won’t more or increased grants simply increase the prices in the desirable suburbs?
How about instead triggering gentrification in some of the cheaper suburbs, so the demand is spread around? You can’t move places to be closer to the CBD, but you can level the playing field a bit. Fund urban renewal projects. Instigate planning that ensures pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods, with better facilities such as shopping, schools and other services, and recreation within walking distance of more homes. Provide usable (eg frequent and fast) public transport into every area.
Doesn’t every suburb deserve this kind of basic amenity? Why are some missing out? Why should those who can’t afford the well-heeled areas live like second class citizens?