We know, buying a house sounds like a long, long, long way off. The concept is kind of like buying dinner for your parents or handing out a business card – it’s something that sounds very adult and dignified but probably won’t happen anytime soon.
But you’ve got to admit that one day, having a little slice of land to call your own would be pretty bloody nice.
Here’s the thing though. Australia is in the midst of a housing-affordability crisis. Wages are increasing slowly and house prices have increased really quickly. This means that buying a house just isn’t a realistic option for most people in their 20s.
And, in case you haven’t been paying attention to the middle-aged columnists who hate you for being young, it’s all your fault. Young people spend too much time and money on takeaway coffees and smashed avocado breakfasts – this is why they can’t afford to buy houses. Or so we’re told.
So let’s break down the numbers…
The price of a house
As of September 2017, the average house price in Sydney was $1,167,516. Melbourne’s was $880,902 and Canberra’s was $723,980. All the other capital cities had prices between $500,000 and $600,000, except Hobart, which was just over $400,000. Apartments cost a bit less, with an average of $723,321 in Sydney and a bit over $300,000 in most of the other states.
Basically, if you want to live in Sydney or Melbourne, buying a house is going to be almost impossible. This is because while house prices have been steadily increasing for decades, wages haven’t caught up.
The average weekly wage for an Australian, as of November 2017 was $1,191.70. If you think that figure seems pretty high, remember that it averages out everyone’s wage – including all the bankers, lawyers and doctors. For those still in their teens and twenties—people who tend to be living on apprentice wages, working part time while studying or working in entry level roles—the average wage is a lot lower. Some people work full time for little more than $600 per week, after tax.
How people actually do it
Research shows that the people who are able to buy houses in their 20s (and 30s) tend to have a few things going for them:
- They go halves in the house with a partner or family member
- They live with their parents (rent free or low rent) for a long, long time in order to save money
- Their parents help them out with the deposit (which, remember, is at least 10% of the total price of the house – in Sydney that would be, on average, more than $116,751)
- Their parents go guarantor on their home loan
- They pinch every penny – that means seriously limiting the usual things that most people do in their 20s, like spend money on travel, festivals, new clothes, new tech products and, of course, eating and drinking out
As you might have noticed, a lot of these factors involve your parents. And that’s about the size of it – if you’ve got a good support network who’s willing to let you live with them rent free, you’ve got a much higher chance of actually owning your own place one day. And if someone can lend you a hundred grand or so for the deposit, you’re pretty much sorted. All you need to do is get a full time job, take out a loan and spend the next few decades in (crippling) debt.
But if you don’t have that kind of support network, you’ll face the challenge of trying to save a solid amount while paying rent and all your own living expenses. No matter which way you look at it, that’s a tough gig. Especially when you could spend your 20s partying, eating smashed avo and travelling the world.
At the end of the day it’s up to you how you want to use your money and if you put your head down and get a bit of a helping hand, you could end up with your own place. On the other hand if you want to see the world, party and spend your hard earned cash on whatever you want, you might have to consider other options.