For many young Australians, the idea of home ownership is a distant dream that gets further out of reach every time interest rates are raised, as on Tuesday, for the 10th time in as many months.
Daily Mail Australia took to the streets – and beaches – of Sydney to ask Millennials and Gen Z Australians if they still thought they would take a first, tentative step up the housing ladder.
On Tuesday, interest rates were raised to 3.6%, the highest level since 2012, as the Reserve Bank tries to contain inflation, which is rising to 7.4%, the highest level in 30 years.
Some had given up all hope of owning real estate, resigned themselves to forever spending hundreds of dollars a week on rent, while others had careful strategies to save for their dream home – or were lucky enough to already own one.
Professor Nicole Gurran, expert on urban planning and housing affordability, told Daily Mail Australia: ‘Young people who have given up hope of getting up the housing ladder are right to feel sad.
“They’ve been let down by an unfair system that favors landlords rather than renters and existing homeowners over those trying to break into the market.”
Mira Almasri, a 35-year-old single mother, rents a one-bedroom apartment with her two children, ages nine and 14, in Mosman on Sydney’s affluent north coast for $600 a week.
Everything is expensive in Sydney. Even breathing is expensive,” she said.
Ms Almasri, who works in a bridal shop in central Sydney, said she had given up all hope of a home in Sydney.
“It’s impossible to buy in Sydney,” she said.
“Even when you make tons of money, it’s still hard. All my friends who have bought a house in the past two years say they are not happy at all because they pay high interest.’
“I get about $1,000 a week after taxes and I pay $600 for a one-bedroom apartment. Add food, gas, electricity – it’s too much.’
Rents across Sydney rose by a record 18.6 percent to a median of $575 per week in December, according to a Domain Rent Report.
Ms. Almasri, who is originally from Lebanon, has been unable to return home or travel abroad for five years.
“I can’t put money aside,” she said.
Ms Almasri, who has lived in Australia for 14 years, is looking for a three bedroom home for herself and her two children.
In her current unit, she sleeps on a sofa bed in the living room, while her children share the only bedroom with two single beds.
Stephanie Zizer, 35, first entered the real estate ladder four years ago
Zoe Janssen (pictured) works as a paralegal while studying law
Destiny Griffin, 18, manages a juice bar in Cronulla, South Sydney, and is also a part-time influencer.
She earns about $1,000 a week and has been able to set aside $700 for the past year as she still lives at home in Alexandria, Sydney’s city center, with her mother.
She said she was thinking of investing in a one-bed “doer-upper” in central Sydney or nearby eastern suburbs.
“I want to invest in real estate or a business by the end of the year,” she said.
While Miss Griffin was tight-lipped about what that business might be, she was at the beach taking some photos for a bikini brand that had sent her free swimwear to promote her 12,000 Instagram followers.
When asked if she would consider buying in the west of the city, where real estate prices are cheaper, she replied ‘no’.
“There’s nothing wrong with it — it’s very up and coming,” she said.
“I could move quite easily and pay for a house with the job I have. But why should I do that if I can live at home in the city.’
“It’s not even like I live in the nicest or biggest house, but I’m right in the center of everything, so I can’t really complain about that.”
Miss Griffin, who drives a Mercedes, said she would be open to the idea of reality television, but not in Australia.
“Who do we have that we consider most famous in Australia? Probably NRL players,” she said.
She added: ‘That’s what concerns me about any girl who wants to date an NRL player. I could if I wanted to, but I see them as a bit of a barrier. This is how I feel about it: an NRL player has a contract, they can only go so high.’
Destiny Griffin (pictured) hopes to buy some time in the coming year
Santos Tiwari (pictured) has just opened Dumpling & Momo bar in central Sydney
Santos Tiwari, 35, is an entrepreneur who runs several coffee stands across Sydney and has just opened a dumpling bar in a laneway off George Street in the CBD.
He bought a five-bedroom house in Adelaide in 2015, which he rents out for $550 a week.
But he says real estate in his hometown is absurdly priced.
“It would be nice to buy one in Sydney, but not the amount you have to pay now – it’s just ridiculous,” he said.
“I’d probably buy anywhere in Australia other than Sydney.”
Mr. Tiwari lives in a two-bedroom house overlooking the harbor in Gladesville, on Sydney’s lower north coast, which costs $700 a week.
Jacob Burrows (pictured), an electrician from Western Australia, has been studying the property market and hopes to buy next year
Jacob Burrows, 22, an electrician from Perth, Western Australia, hopes to buy a home within the next 12 months, despite the highest interest rates since 2012.
He did a lot of research, including reading a book about a man who owned 30 properties at the age of 30.
“It’s quite difficult at the moment because everything is so expensive,” he said.
“A few years ago I wanted to try to understand the market to understand what is involved in buying a home. I’ve been learning the housing market for a year or so and now I’m looking for cheaper houses instead of buying one big one so I can have a smaller deposit.’
Mr Burrows, who is visiting his girlfriend in Sydney, said buying property in the NSW capital was out of the question.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “If you buy a small house here, you will probably get two houses in Perth.”
Mr. Burrows, who now earns $100,000 a year, started his trade as soon as he left school at age 17 and is looking at places he could renovate himself.
“You don’t want to compromise,” he said. “I took a step back and weighed the quality of my life and I realized that if I rented a smaller house I could have a better lifestyle, travel more etc.”
He hopes to enter the housing market without the help of his parents.
“I’d rather do it myself than worry about mom and dad,” he said.
Mira Almasri (pictured), a single mother of two, has given up all hope of owning a home in Sydney because the city is ‘too expensive’
Stephanie Zizer, 35, has lived in Sydney all her life.
Ms. Zizer, who is a full-time mother of her two children, first entered the real estate ladder four years ago.
She and her husband, who runs a waste and recycling company, are paying off a four-bedroom house in expensive Vaucluse.
But the recent rate hikes have had an impact.
“Huge,” she said. “Obviously there have been quite a few increases and it’s affecting everyone at the moment.”
Before buying with her husband, Mrs. Zizer rented in the eastern suburbs.
“It’s always been expensive to live in the East, but then it was manageable,” she said.
Garth Johnstone (pictured) plans to settle in Australia after moving from the UK
Garth Johnstone, 25, moved to Sydney from the London suburbs three and a half years ago.
Mr Johnstone works as a roofer and shares a house in Darlinghurst, in the inner east of the town.
“My rent is currently $450 a week, but could go up soon with all the price increases,” he said.
“Some of my friends” have already gone up to $500 a week and I’ve heard of some hostels where you pay $450 for a bed in an eight-person dorm.”
“It’s an insane price, especially for travelers trying to make a living here.”
Mr Garth, who is training for his roofer’s license, is working towards permanent residency and intends to settle in Australia.
He is saving to buy a house within five years.
“The market has skyrocketed lately,” he said.
“It’s kind of awful living here, but I don’t really see myself moving to the far west, but obviously there’s a lot cheaper rent and more jobs, too, so maybe it has to happen.”
Zoe Janssen, 21, works as a paralegal in central Sydney while completing her law degree and living with her parents in Roseville on the north coast.
“I don’t have any immediate plans to rent because everything is paid at home and I’m saving money,” she said.
When ready to buy, her dream location would be somewhere near the beach in Sydney.
“Basically anywhere you can get to right now,” she said.
Professor Gurran said the Australian government could do more to give young people a fair chance to climb the housing ladder.
“They’ve ignored three decades of research evidence on how to make the housing system fairer and more efficient,” she said.
‘While recent promises of a national housing plan and greater social and affordable offerings are important, obvious and immediate measures, such as increasing Commonwealth Rent Assistance; reform of the private rented sector; and requirements that new housing developments include affordable owner-occupied and rental housing continue to be overlooked.”