If you’re sick of trying to find a place to rent every few years for the rest of your life, the other option is to buy. I’m sure I won’t be the first to tell you just. How. Difficult. This. Is. Especially without getting the help of your folks, which isn’t a reality for everyone.

This article was originally published by The Foundation for Young Australians.

After 4 years of being perfect tenants, recently my housemates and I received, without warning, a notice of eviction.

No heads up, no thank you for 4 years of on-time rent and treating the house with respect. Just a 1-page eviction notice from our Property Manager saying the owner wanted to sell. And they were perfectly within their rights to do it. Ouch.

The realisation of how little power renters have hit me. Throughout my years living in that share house, it was nearly impossible to get someone to come out to look at, say, a messed up tap or a door that wouldn’t close. But 1 piece of paper and it’s time for us to find a new place to call home after 5 years.

Finding a new place to rent is damn hard. The demand for rental properties, especially where I’ve been looking in Melbourne, is off the charts. You don’t have to look very far to see the evidence.

Exhibit A: have you heard of Fairy Floss Real Estate? It’s a Facebook group with over 92,000 Melbournian members who can let each other know when they have a room available for rent. And people looking for some nice mates to live with can get to know each other. It’s mostly for share-housing and a more informal version of sites like flatmates.com.au (also a viable option).

It’s a really really smart idea and an excellent way to connect people with similar interests looking for somewhere to call home. But it’s also a demonstration of just how many other young Australians are in a similar situation to me.

If you’re accepted to join the group, you get notifications when users post that they have a room up for grabs. On more than one occasion however, I have found myself getting a notification, going to the post to get some more details only to find that 30 people have already asked if they can fill the room.

There is of course one of my favourite websites to pretend to be rich on, realestate.com.au. They do have a section on rental homes currently available listed by loads of different real estate agents, which are ready to be filled with you and your mates. It’s totally a viable option as well, and I went to a few inspections. They tend to follow this kind of pattern:

1. Arrive to see a massive line around the block of fashionable twenty somethings that I assume are all very rich.

2. Have a quick walk through the house with 600 others. Pretend to know what you’re exactly looking for by banging the walls with your knuckles a few times.

3. Notice how it is actually incredibly impractical, and that the “third bedroom” is actually a hallway heading to an outhouse.

4. Go to leave and overhear others telling the agent that they love it and offering to pay $50 a week over the asking price and the first 3 months of rent upfront.

5. Cry. 6. Repeat.

If you’re sick of trying to find a place to rent every few years for the rest of your life, the other option is to buy. I’m sure I won’t be the first to tell you just. How. Difficult. This. Is. Especially without getting the help of your folks, which isn’t a reality for everyone.

I hear some older people say that it’s not harder for young people to buy a place, that salaries have gone up as well as house prices. They talk about how young people are just too picky with where they want to live. However, our research shows that, on average, young people now need to take on a home loan that is 134% of their disposable income. This compared to 32% in 1988. The same research also shows it now takes that average Sydney home buyer 15 years to save a deposit, compared to the 6 years it took the average Sydney home buyer in 1985. Our salaries just aren’t keeping up. Young people’s incomes have only slightly increasing in comparison to their older counterparts over the past 30 years. 15-24-year-olds have had a 20% salary increase, whilst 45-59-year-olds have seen a 37% increase.

So what’s the answer? Well it’s very complex. When buying a place feels impossible for the foreseeable future, and the market to find a place just to rent is so competitive, I honestly don’t know. But it does make me think about our current housing market and just how hard it is for other young people. But I don’t necessarily think that coming up with an answer is up to me either?

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