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‘Key workers’ skip cities in search of affordable housing


The cost of living and housing in some of Australia’s key capital city markets is causing “key workers” in certain sectors to relocate in search of a more manageable lifestyle. 

In particular, home ownership constraints in Sydney and Melbourne could be triggering a mass movement of nurses, teachers, paramedics, ambulance officers and emergency services personnel.

A report from PwC Australia, which was commissioned by Genworth Mortgage Insurance and Teachers Mutual Bank, found that 79 per cent of key workers in Sydney and Melbourne believe that home ownership is not achievable for them, with almost one in four looking to either relocate or change careers.

The survey, which analysed responses from 1,084 Australians, found that despite having the ability to service a home loan, key workers were finding the time taken to save for a deposit to secure a loan was a major barrier to buying a home in Sydney and Melbourne.


“We are potentially looking at a drain of key workers from Australia’s two largest cities, when demand for their services is growing and at a time when 57 per cent of the general public believe a shortage already exists,” said Steve James, chief executive of Teachers Mutual Bank.

“If our key workers can’t find homes, our cities can’t function,” he said.

Big sacrifices

“Significant personal sacrifices” are being made to cope with affordability issues, according to PwC.

These include the following for key workers:

- 47 per cent working overtime, which is nearly twice the national average

- 23 per cent moving in with family or friends to save a deposit

- 29 per cent delaying starting a family

What the future holds

The report noted that the challenges in saving for a deposit have been exacerbated by the fact that many key workers are required to be “on-call”, which can restrict their access to homes in more affordable suburbs.

According to the research, it takes a key worker over 12 years to save for a 20 per cent home deposit in Sydney and more than nine years in Melbourne.

“[It’s] clear something needs to be done to help them secure a home sooner,” the CEO and managing director of Genworth, Georgette Nicholas, said.

‘Key workers’ skip cities in search of affordable housing
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