LIFESTYLE

More Adults Are Living With Their Parents Because They Can't Afford A Home

19/07/2017 08:06 SAST | Updated 19/07/2017 08:06 SAST
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Nearly 114,000 people in Sydney aged 25 to 34 are still living in the family home, in a housing environment of spiralling prices and a decade-long wait to scrape together enough money for a deposit.

Australia's housing affordability drama -- it has turned avocado toast into a political issue, made ramshackle homes into million-dollar properties, and even got the United Nations worried. Now, it has been revealed housing affordability is now cramping the style of even proper adults, with more people aged 25 to 34 in Sydney having to live at home with their parents.

Housing affordability, or lack thereof for young people, is the issue on everyone's lips in Australia. The issues have been demonstrated in survey after survey after survey, in decidedly average cottages selling for nearly $4 million, in unrenovated homes going for far above the reserve, in weatherboards flatly described as "tired" going for more than $1 million.

Recent figures show even average families are being priced out of Australia's cities.

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An analysis of recently released Census data from housing affordability expert and financial planner Robert Snell has found 113,868 non-dependent children in Sydney aged between 25 and 34 living in the family home on Census night 2016 -- 67,738 men and 46,130 women. That means people with their own income and life ("non-dependent") but who still live with their parents or relatives. That's a small uptick from the 110,000 reported in 2011, but Snell told HuffPost Australia the figure remained so high in 2016 due in large part to housing issues.

"The 2011 number was large but it's still getting larger. It is going up for the obvious reason, which particularly in Sydney is the prices. There's nowhere for these kids to go," Snell said.

"This is a whole generation that will be worse off. It's a tragedy. Australia's prices are among the highest in the world."

Elsewhere in the Census, figures showed home ownership rates for almost all age groups (except those aged 65 and up) were declining. Only 31 percent of Australians owned their house outright after paying off their mortgage, down from 32 percent in 2011 and from 40 percent in 1991. People are renting more than ever, but rental prices are also on the way up, meaning people are forced into expensive rental properties instead of saving for a house as they would have done in previous generations. Around one in four (22 percent) of Sydney renters were in "housing stress", a situation where they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

Snell called housing affordability a "gaping wound" and a "disaster" in Australian society.

"The problem is definitely growing. The Census data also shows a significant rise of groups of five or six living in a house, more people are having to co-habit. It's hard to get the data on what relationships are between those people, but many of them are definitely families, and would be children living at home with mum and dad," he said.

"This is going on everywhere, but Sydney is more pronounced."

He said living at home with parents or family wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as many people in the past did so in order to save money on rent and therefore save faster for their own home. However, he said this trend was not happening today.

"As maligned as negative gearing and investing is, if these people are paying off a property while living with mum and dad, the problem wouldn't be so bad, but this is not the case," he said.

"We need to get things started sooner rather than later. As a society, this generation will be dramatically worse off, and that's not the Australia I'd like to see."

HOUSING: THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN NIGHTMARE

Katie Acheson, CEO of youth advocacy body Youth Action, said the Census figures showed how housing affordability issues are impacting on Australia's young people.

"About 10 years ago, baby boomers started talking about kids staying at home longer, there have been these jokes about young people mooching off their parents. But what we know is that it's 15 years to save a deposit and 12 times the annual salary," she told HuffPost Australia.

"When you're saving for 15 years, you need to earn enough to save. If you're renting, rents have gone up 44 percent in the last decade. While you're trying to save a for a million-dollar house, you have to have enough disposable income to save, so renting is sometimes impossible if you're trying to save. We see young people having to delay their own independence, either staying at home or coming back to their parents when they realise they can't make it work with rental and living expenses."

Acheson called for Australia to urgently address issues affecting the ability of young people to save money and enter the housing market. She cited factors including a shrinking job market due to higher automation and outsourcing through globalisation, job security, and negative gearing.

"We need to have an open conversation about what has happened and what we can do, not blaming one generation or the other. The issue isn't that young people just aren't moving out, its that they don't have an option," she said.