Abstract: Many of Australia’s rural and regional centres have not been immune from the housing crisis that has been widely acknowledged within metropolitan Australia. This study found that the suite of housing programs being rolled out nationally has had a variable and often muted level of impact in rural and regional housing markets. Many of the trends apparent in the metropolitan housing markets are present in regional and rural Australia. For example, much of rural and regional Australia has been affected by the rapid house price inflation evident across Australia since the year 2000. Consequently, housing affordability is, and remains, a key concern in many rural and regional communities, with housing stress most acute amongst private rental tenants. Lack of supply in the rental market is a particular concern in regional and rural areas. The private rental market appears under-developed because of a shortage of investors and inappropriate planning regulations. However there is demand for rental housing and this is driven by the low wage, highly variable labour markets in these regions. While private rental supply is low, social housing provision in rural and regional areas is also inadequate. The National Affordable Housing Agreement has delivered some social housing but has had a low profile in regional Australia, and the National Rental Affordability Scheme hasn’t delivered units in areas suitable for many low-income families that rely on public transport. Paradoxically, by and large home ownership has remained affordable in rural and regional Australia—particularly for those households already in home ownership. Housing stress levels are generally lower for home owners in most locations. Even so, many first home buyers now face difficulties in purchasing their first home, notwithstanding the effects of the First Home Owner Boost in bringing forward demand for home purchase. Housing market inequalities are emerging in some regions, especially those that have been affected by the ‘resources boom’. Polarised housing markets are characterised by one segment of the market focused on high income, often temporary, mine workers; with the established population working in ancillary industries or not working being forced to compete for less expensive properties at the bottom of the housing market.
Andrew Beer, Selina Tually, Steven Rowley, Fiona Haslam McKenzie, Julia Schlapp, Christina Birdsall Jones, Vanessa Corunna, 2011, The drivers of supply and demand in Australia’s rural and regional centres, Report, viewed 16 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=4023.