Housing is (obviously) a big part of city life, and Australian rental affordability has been a hot topic recently, especially for those in professional careers. The better office jobs are in bigger cities, but it costs more to live near those jobs.
But with technology helping make remote work more feasible, moving around the country has become a more realistic prospect.
Whether you’re looking to move or just want to compare, here’s what $500 per week will get you in six Australian cities.
Australian rental affordability by the numbers
In 2017, Sydney rental affordability fell to record lows, with the average tenant spending 29% of their household income on rent. That’s just shy of the 30% ‘unaffordable’ standard, and most inner suburbs exceeded that level (by a lot).
In Melbourne, a report found the average household spends 24% of income on rent. It found single parents, pensioners, and students were hit hardest, spending up to 68% of their income on rent!
The same report found the smaller cities had similar numbers. For example, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Canberra renters all spent around 25% of their income on rent. But these cities all have much more affordable options close to their city-centres.
What does $500 rent look like in 2018?
The listings below were taken from Domain in January 2018. Unsurprisingly, there are big differences in the value of a rental dollar in different states…
Sydney: “Don’t say small, say fun-sized!”
Most Sydney rentals under $500, and east of Parramatta, looked a bit like this. This one bedder in Glebe isn’t really a bad apartment, but you’d be stretched to do much stretching in it. And the real estate agent is stretching the definition of ‘spacious’.
Look, it’s not very big. It’s small. A mouse might feel stifled. A shoebox could fit a bigger bed. The Toyota Yaris’ in our fleet have more leg room.
But it would suit someone who lives simply. Or someone desperate.
Description: “Centrally located in the heart of Glebe, close to cafes, restaurants, and boutique shopping. This spacious, furnished one bedroom has an open plan living/dining room, large bedroom with built-ins and a balcony.”
Melbourne: “To a house what a laneway is to the Monash Freeway.”
Maybe that’s a bit misleading – this isn’t a bad place. You won’t find a nice place in a hip suburb like Fitzroy for $500, but there are good options close to town.
This two bedroom Collingwood flat is nothing to write home about. But two beds means you can split rent, with enough space you won’t be tripping over each other. You also have your choice of trams, with a total commute less than 20 minutes.
Description: “Fantastic two bedroom apartment in trendy Collingwood, walking distance to local shops, cafes, restaurants, Fitzroy Gardens, and transport.”
Canberra: “Close to everything, just near the roundabout.”
Canberra is an odd city, in a good way. Extremely livable and compact, most places are close to most other places, so it’s not hard to find a place near work.
Though with most Canberrans working for the government, that makes things easier.
Canberra’s a little different, so here’s an apartment that’s a little different – a charming loft in Braddon (‘charming’ means small in realtorese). It’s a 10 minute commute to Civic, or 20 to Parliament House, where you probably work.
While it’s not impossible to find two bedrooms under $500 this close to town, it’s tricky, and you’ll be making compromises. But in a public service town, when supply matches demand, small but nice is typical.
Description: “The loft design offers a wealth of living space downstairs and up. The downstairs area offers quality carpet, modern kitchen with stone benchtops and stainless steel appliances, and features floor to ceiling windows onto the balcony.”
Brisbane: “The rug really ties the room together. Also it comes with the apartment.”
For those in the Sydney and Melbourne bubble, renting is barrier after barrier after barrier. But this place is all about removing those inconveniences.
The city? Minutes away. Bathrooms? As many as there are bedrooms (two). The balcony? Big enough for a dining table, hold the climbing-over-dinner-guests.
And the furniture? Most of it comes with the place. Not to everyone’s taste (that couch in particular) but those options aren’t easy to come by in bigger cities.
Description: “This large and spacious furnished apartment is modern, sleek, and great for entertaining. Located in the heart of Fortitude Valley, it’s a stone’s throw away from New Farm, James St Precinct, Public Transport, and 2km from the CBD.”
Adelaide: “Where did all these bedrooms come from?”
Nestled in the south-east of the centre square of Adelaide city, this house…
Wait … did you say HOUSE!?
Apparently a dollar counts for a lot more west of Cameron Corner, because our budget will get you a terrace and change super close to the Adelaide CBD.
And we mean literal change, this place is listed at $470 per week. In fact, we couldn’t find a single appropriate comparison property for $500 a week – everything was too cheap!
Look, the place is a bit old, and a little all over the place renovation-wise, but with three beds this close in, it’s hard not to be impressed.
Description: “Situated in the highly sought after Hutt Street precinct of the Adelaide CBD, this delightful cottage has much to offer! Recently repainted and the bathroom and kitchen are updated.”
Perth: “Right. So this is what space looks like.”
We had to look 20-30 minutes from Sydney to find two or three bedroom rentals for $500 per week. But in the Perth city centre it was difficult to find a place with less than two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a parking spot. In the actual city!
We’ve featured something just out of the city here. This Subiaco terrace will fit a family or a group of friends comfortably, with a massive patio for entertaining. Besides the stairwell looking like a slinky (which is does), there’s not much to dislike.
Unless you don’t want to live in Perth. But we don’t really see that as a downside.
Description: “Devon Gardens is situated opposite King Edward Hospital and only a short walk to the heart of Subiaco. A well maintained complex, this property has street frontage with one parking space at the door, plus another at the rear of the house.”
Thinking of moving yet?
Let’s be honest, moving cities just to chase a nicer house isn’t a great reason to shift your whole life. Living in smaller houses and apartments is an important part of making our cities more sustainable, as is getting people closer to multi-use services like car sharing. But those apartments need to strike a good balance of being livable and affordable, and that’s a bigger question.
If you’re stuck where you are, remember there are other ways to save money. For example, you can sell your car and join the tens of thousands of Australian’s using GoGet car share!