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Oct 26, 2011

High housing costs force troubling trade offs

The high cost of housing is forcing families to make troubling trade-offs, including delaying having children because they can’t get into home ownership or secure rental housing.

Reports of house prices and economic fears driving Victoria’s fertility rate to the lowest in the nation indicate that the housing crisis has wide reaching ramifications.

The problem of housing affordability is indeed  a wide-reaching one.

High house prices mean people face trade offs around when to start a family, whether to have a second child, and whether they can afford to spend time at home with their baby before returning to work.

While people have always had to make choices around home and family, it hasn’t always been this hard. A generation ago, house prices were three times the average annual income, now they’re seven times average annual income.

If home ownership were more affordable, or people were able to get security in the rental market then people would feel more confident to start a life.

Home ownership shouldn’t be precondition for having children, but when families in the rental market can be evicted for no reason it is understandable that many people seek the security of home ownership. Finding affordable rental accomodation near to a child’s school or childcare is usually difficult, and sometimes impossible.

The housing crisis affects so many levels of peoples’ social and economic wellbeing. We can’t afford to ignore the pressures that the high cost of housing is exerting on Australians any longer.

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