People are leaving Sydney because it’s too expensive to buy a house. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP
People are leaving Sydney because it’s too expensive to buy a house. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

The families being pushed out of Sydney

SARAH* had planned to make a life for her family in Sydney but like many others, the 30-year-old mum has been pushed out thanks to exorbitant housing prices.

This month Sarah, her husband Tom* and their two-year-old son, will be moving out of Sydney, a city they have called home for eight years, to live in Brisbane instead.

"I'm sad to be leaving because my family will still live here," Sarah told news.com.au.

"I know we don't have to have our own house but it's a dream we have always had, to own our own place and to have space."

Originally from New Zealand, the couple moved to Sydney where Sarah's mum, dad and sister now live.

"I love it here, it's been amazing," Sarah said.

But with a combined before-tax income of $150,000, which is higher than the median household income in Sydney of $93,548, Sarah and Tom still can't afford to buy a place to accommodate their increasingly active little boy.

Last week new data showed people living in Sydney needed to earn at least $161,858 a year to buy a house if they wanted to avoid mortgage stress, which is when you spend more than 30 per cent of your pre-tax income on loan repayments. Sydney's median house price is hovering at just under $1 million, compared to $538,693 in Brisbane.

Even though Sydney house prices fell by 4.5 per cent in the 12 months to the end of June for their largest annual drop since 2008, Sarah said it was still too expensive to buy the home they wanted.

"We never had an issue before we had a baby but all of a sudden we had a two-year-old running around and outgrowing the apartment, it was hard," she said.

The couple are lucky to be renting a three-bedroom apartment in Bondi Beach for $700 a week, which is very cheap for the area. Unfortunately their hunt for a bigger place with outdoor space, at a significantly cheaper price, failed to turn up any decent options.

With both of them able to get a transfer to Brisbane with their jobs, moving north emerged as a good option. They will also have the support of Tom's family who also live in Brisbane.

In their new suburb of Morningside, they will have their own three-bedroom townhouse with an outdoor area for $500 a week. The suburb is located just 5km east of the Brisbane CBD and Sarah will be able to drive to work.

"I think it's a bit easier with the family," she said. "We didn't envisage a child growing up in an apartment.

"Everyone gets it and says it's completely understandable and will probably have to do it as well."

In fact, four others in her mother's group of about 10 women have also moved out of Sydney for similar reasons.

 

Potential buyers at an auction in Morningside. The median house price in Brisbane is $538,693 compared to about $1 million in Sydney. Photo: Supplied
Potential buyers at an auction in Morningside. The median house price in Brisbane is $538,693 compared to about $1 million in Sydney. Photo: Supplied

One moved to the Gold Coast and the others to Byron Bay, Brisbane and back to the United States.

"It's hard to get ahead here, I feel we're actually going to get somewhere once we move," she said.

Sarah and her friends are just one of the many Sydneysiders choosing to leave the harbourside city.

More than 18,000 people abandoned Sydney last year to live in other parts of Australia. About 40,000 headed elsewhere in NSW and 14,400 went to Melbourne.

But the population in Sydney and Melbourne is still growing because most overseas migrants chose to live in these two cities.

Around 80 per cent of the total net overseas migration went to Sydney and Melbourne, and there are calls from other states for more immigrants to be directed to other regions.

"The cost of housing in Sydney has obviously gone through the roof, it's one of the most expensive places to live in the world. A lot of younger people especially can't afford to live there anymore, so they're being forced to leave," Leith van Onselen, chief economist with MacroBusiness said.

"Secondly, liveability is being massively eroded - traffic congestion, trains, schools, hospitals, all manner of public services - and related to that it's just become an expensive place to live, not just for housing but for day-to-day life."

Sarah said the cost of living in Brisbane appeared quite similar to Sydney for things like child care, which is still going to cost about $130 a day.

"It's really about the housing situation," she said. "You can actually get a house in Brisbane for under $1 million with a decent amount of land … still close to the city," Sarah said.

She is also looking forward to getting away from the traffic issues in Bondi.

"We haven't spent a huge amount of time in Brisbane city but we're excited, it will be a good change and the weather will also be different, which is always good."

 

Sarah and her husband will be saying goodbye to Bondi this month.
Sarah and her husband will be saying goodbye to Bondi this month.

* Names have been changed.


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