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300km commute for workers to find affordable housing

Nz Herald
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

IF you're a fan of crisp country air and the spending weekends wine tasting at local vineyards, then Australia's Hunter Valley doesn't sound like a bad place to invest in your first home.

There's only one catch. Your daily commute to a job in Sydney's central business district would consist of a round-trip of more than 300km.

It's a trip that takes around two-and-a-half hours one-way in your car, and more than three hours, at its fastest, one-way on public transport.

It sounds like a tough slog. But for someone earning $A57,000 ($F90,751) or less, Cessnock, a small town deep in the heart of the Hunter, is the closest affordable town to Sydney.

That's according to a new report, released yesterday, revealing the extent of Sydney's housing affordability crisis.

The University of Sydney report found in the 10 years between 2006 and 2016, Sydney lost about 20 per cent of key workers including teachers, nurses and emergency service workers to outer and regional areas in the Illawarra, Southern Highlands and Hunter Valley.

"Australia's key workers are increasingly locked out of home ownership, particularly in the metropolitan housing markets of Sydney and Melbourne," the report said.

"High house prices and rents are 'pushing out' some of Sydney's key workers."

The report reveals that between 2003 and 2016, the median price of established homes in Sydney more than doubled from $A400,000 ($F636,849) to about $A900,000 ($F1.4 million) — beyond the reach of many key workers, especially those who are single.

Soaring rents have heightened the crisis, making a 20 per cent home loan deposit out of reach for many.

"For instance, a single key worker eyeing a property in Sydney's inner ring at the 2016 median price of just over $A1m ($F1.6m) would need 13 years to save for a deposit," the report stated.

"This is a sharp increase from the 8.4 years needed to save a 20 per cent deposit in 2006.

"Key workers can't afford to buy a home in Sydney's inner-city suburbs, while a nurse with five years' experience who earns about $A57,000 ($F90,769) can only afford to buy a home in Cessnock."

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