Byron Bay is now the most expensive place in Australia to buy a house. (Julia Holman: ABC Rural)
Byron Bay is now the most expensive place in Australia to purchase a house, and locals who did not buy before the boom face the prospect of being forced out of the northern New South Wales tourist mecca.
- Byron Bay has overtaken Sydney as Australia’s most expensive place to buy a house
- Mayor says the boom is putting pressure on the the socially disadvantaged
- Lifelong locals say they are struggling to keep a foothold in their town
A recent nationwide analysis showed the median Byron house price was more than $987,000, putting it ahead of Sydney, at $950,000, while Melbourne ranks sixth at about $772,000.
Report author Simon Pressley, from Propertyology, said the Byron bubble is refusing to burst.
“Sydney’s had two booms in 30 years, and they typically last between two and four years,” Mr Pressly said.
“So if we’re having this discussion about any location other than Byron, I’d say [because] it’s gone strong for five years, it must be really close to the end.
“But the median house price average annual increase over 20 years in Byron has been 10.1 per cent — so it’s sort of defied all logic.”
Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson said booming house prices were a double-edged sword.
“If you’re in the market in Byron it’s great, if you’re trying to get in it’s less great,” Mr Richardson said
“But on a more important level is [that it’s] putting incredible pressure on locals to stay here.
“We are still in the lowest 20 per cent 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.”
Byron Bay woman Jann Burmester says it’s now “impossible” for most locals to afford a house in the town. (Leah White: ABC North Coast)
Locals locked out
Jann Burmester 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,” Ms Burmester said.
“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.
“It’s such a shame because my children in particular would love to live in the Bay, they just love it, but that’s just not possible any more.”
Tom Cook 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,” he said.
“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.”
House of blues … Byron musician Fintan Callaghan is facing eviction. (Leah White: ABC North Coast)
Local musician Fintan Callaghan has given up on the dream of owning a house in his home town, and is struggling to find a place to rent.
The 50-year-old father of four faces the prospect of being 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,” Mr Callaghan said.
“Looks like I’ll be going to a caravan park.
“I can only just manage maybe $400 a week.
“You look at the local paper and see what you can get for that — they usually say no pets, no kids, no cooking bacon!”