Byron Bay’s high values are putting pressure on the socially disadvantaged and locking locals out of the housing market.
The regional city was named the most expensive city in the county in recent research by Propertyology. Byron Bay was able to snatch the title from Sydney as the median house price of the former rose by a whopping 64% over the past five calendar years. However, the booming house prices were a double-edged sword, according to Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson.
"If you're in the market in Byron it's great; if you're trying to get in it's less great. We are still in the lowest 20% of social disadvantage… There are massive amounts who are struggling from the huge homelessness problems to those who are really struggling to stay in Byron,” Richardson told abc.net.au.
Locals are also priced out of the market. Abc.net.au featured a resident who has lived in the town for 40 years and has two children in their 30s.
"Both children will not be able to afford to live in the town that they were born in, which is really sad," Jann Burmester told abc.net.au. "I was fortunate to have bought myself a townhouse in the Bay, but five or six years ago, I was made redundant and was forced to sell.”
Tom Cook, meanwhile, is a 29-year-old father of three who was born in Byron Bay and still works there but has moved south to Ballina with his family.
"Dad was brought up there, and we were born there and wanted to bring our kids up there, it is sad. We were paying close to $600 a week (in rent) for a two-bedroom townhouse that was close to 15 years old. We're paying an extra $50 a week down in Ballina, and we've got a three-year-old, four-bedroom house with a pool,” he told abc.net.au.
There are also some who have given up on the dream of owning a house in their hometown and are having a difficulty finding a place to rent. Local musician Fintan Callaghan, a 50-year-old father of four, is one of them. He might be evicted at the end of the month because the converted garage he was renting is being renovated for use as a short-term holiday let.
"I'm paying $300 a week, but they're going to knock down the wall, put in a kitchenette, and they'll probably get $300 a night for it," Callaghan said.