Photographic Journals on Travel, Sport, Australian Society & Japanese Culture



Originally posted January 1, 2020; UPDATED July 22, 2020: Happy New Year! Hopefully you saw the New Year in with your loved ones in a safe place, and my thoughts go to those battling with terrible bushfires in many parts of Australia.

Now that the year 2020 has begun, I’m going to kick off the new decade with a MASSIVE rant. But this New Year’s Rant has nothing to do with my customary ‘Digital vs. Analogue’ theme. It’s about one of the most unaffordable cities in the world that is Sydney. Now let me tell you…

“My WHOLE LIFE has been a constant battle against single supplements”

…just because I am happily single. And I’m not just talking about those ‘single supplements’ that you need to pay whenever you travel solo. I’m talking about all aspects of your everyday life including (in large part) rent and utility bills – simply because you don’t have a partner to share the living expenses with.

Buying a property in Sydney with a modest single income is totally out of the question, so naturally you look at renting a place. But the crippling lack of affordable accommodation in this city makes it equally impossible for singles to find a decent bachelor’s pad unless you make an above-average income.

If you have a partner, then splitting the rent for a 1-bedroom unit between you is a feasible option, but sharing the same bedroom with a total stranger is definitely not an option for me.

Ever since I arrived in Australia as a working holiday maker, I’ve been sharing a unit or house with housemate/s. Which is fine if you are a young backpacker – but having lived with a stranger after another for nearly three decades, I’ve just had enough.

For quite some time now, I’ve been inspecting units around my area to see what’s on offer on the rental market. To say the results have been disappointing is a gross understatement. Studios and 1-bedroom units in particular, are just so small, dirty and/or otherwise miserable that they are not worth the money you’d have to fork out for them. In fact, one of the studios I inspected was so small that the tenant had to put a medium size fridge on top of the kitchen bench! And I’m willing to bet that the landlords of those properties themselves wouldn’t want to live there if they were a prospective tenant.

Speaking of landlords, I’ve also come to realize that many of them are struggling with mortgage repayment, therefore they don’t have much money left to update or refurbish their investment properties. As a result, many of those apartments have been left in a dirty/pathetic/disgusting – or even dilapidating – state.

It is often talked in the media how unaffordable Sydney has now become – but nothing is being done to tackle the problem, and property prices just go up… and up. There are lots of ‘brand-new luxury apartments’ shooting up seemingly everywhere in Sydney but, tell me, who’s charitable enough to build a ‘brand-new AFFORDABLE unit block’ for average Joes and Janes?

UPDATED July 22, 2020: As it turns out, the year 2020 has been anything but ‘happy’. In Australia, it started off with devastating bushfires, followed by damaging storms. Then – as you all know by now – the whole world has been turned upside down by some deadly virus called COVID-19. And this invisible bug has managed to do what authorities have so far failed to do: it has singlehandedly turned the tables in tenants’ favor in the rental market.

Suddenly, there’s no influx of migrants including international students, tourists and working holiday makers, and many young Aussies who were renting apartments have now moved back in with their parents because of financial difficulties caused by this coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the rental properties I inspected in recent months have seen significant price drops within a few short weeks of being listed – by as much as $100 per week for 2-bedroom units. Real estate agents are now chasing prospective tenants and not the other way around. Now that Sydney rents are coming down to ‘saner’ levels, I’m hoping to be able to find a suitable pad just for myself in the near future…

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