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Increasing Cost of Rent Taking its Toll on Students


Photo by Hollie Speer

The cost of renting a house, unit or apartment in Canberra has skyrocketed over the past year. This has left Canberra as one of the most expensive capital cities in Australia to live in.

Throughout 2017 properties served a median rent price of approximately $500 a week, with prices in the past 12 months only increasing.

Increases in rent costs are affecting many individuals and significantly affecting young students who are currently studying and receiving only casual wages.

The cost of rent for these young individuals is followed by further costs for food, electricity, water and gas bills, travel expenses, textbooks and study supplies. Little is left for their own personal enjoyment and savings.

A large portion of university students currently living in Canberra have moved from other cities, towns, and in some cases other countries, to be situated closer to their place of study. Yet, with the proliferating costs associated with renting a property, commuting is beginning to look like a much cheaper option for some.

Hollie Speer is a full time student at the University of Canberra and moved to the ACT just over a year ago from Goulburn, NSW.

Hollie spent a lot of her time commuting three to four times a week for university, so she found it more convenient to move. This did not end up being the case.

Although relocating closer to her place of study may be more convenient for her in terms of location, Hollie says there are also major financial disadvantages that are associated with moving out of home at a young age.

“The biggest financial struggle living out of home is obviously supporting yourself whilst only working casually.”

“When everything comes at once, for example bills and car registration, or insurance and rent, it can take a while to start getting back on top of everything and finding extra money to spend for yourself.” She said.

Due to significant costs associated with renting a property, many young individuals look further into renting with other occupants. This can be beneficial for the residents with the opportunity to split the renting price and bills amongst one another.

Hollie has lived in two rental properties since moving to Canberra, and in both properties she has not lived alone. She says that living alone at such a young age would simply be impossible with the wage she is currently earning.

“It’s so much easier splitting costs when you live with someone and it takes a lot of stress of one another. There is no way I would be able to afford to live on my own in Canberra whilst working limited hours and studying at university,” she said.

Photo by Hollie Speer

The ability to become more independent as an individual is one of the greatest assets associated with moving away from home. Yet, this can soon be diminished by the stress that young individuals face when trying to maintain a stable financial lifestyle.

Hollie says that many individuals, who are living similar lifestyles to her own, are second-guessing the idealistic nature of home owning and mortgages due to the stress they are already facing.

“For many who are just like me, working only a couple of days a week and going to university the remaining days, they are giving up the idea of owning their own home in the short-term,” she said.

Another former student that went through a similar renting experience is Tori O’Rourke. Tori moved to Canberra from Cooma, NSW, at the age of 20 to be begin studying at the University of Canberra. Tori moved to be closer to the university and to eliminate the costs of commuting from Cooma each day.

Tori has lived in Canberra for five years in the one rental property, which is an apartment located in Belconnen and has faced the many ups and downs of renting a property. She says that the biggest financial struggle that she faced when first moving to Canberra was the cost of all the required extras that come with renting a property on your own.

“The money required for basic furniture and other household items was my biggest financial struggle alongside rent. Even just to fill a pantry of basic foods was a struggle when only working limited hours,” she said.

Five years later, Tori has completed her studies and is currently progressing through her Masters as well as working full time. Tori has only just caught up with her savings after years of renting and spending copious amounts of money on rent for a one bedroom apartment. Tori has now begun the search for a house that she can buy as opposed to renting.

Tori admits that she would have liked to make this move a few years earlier, however the money involved in renting just left it impossible for her to do this.

“It reduces the chances of young individuals being able to enter the housing market. It is simply impossible at such a young age, fending for yourself and working limited hours with heavy study workloads, to be committed to saving,” she said.

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