Prices versus wages plus rental demand divided by coastal desirability are combining to drive down housing affordability in Coffs Harbour.
Prices versus wages plus rental demand divided by coastal desirability are combining to drive down housing affordability in Coffs Harbour.

Manhattan cheaper than Coffs Coast

IT is cheaper to live in sophisticated Manhattan than in casual Coffs Harbour according to a new global survey of housing affordability.

The seventh annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey has listed Coffs Harbour as the world’s fifth least affordable city in which to buy a house.

Unbelievably, this puts us behind Londoners and New Yorkers seeking to buy.

The survey bases affordability on median house price divided by gross annual median household income.

Survey author Joel Kotkin said the shift across Australia had been the most remarkable in the world.

“It was once the exemplar of modestly priced, high-quality middle-class housing and is now the most unaffordable housing market,” he said.

Hong Kong topped the Demographia list, followed by Sydney, Vancouver, Bournemouth and Dorset – and then Coffs Harbour.

With an average house price of $369,900 and an average income of $40,500, Coffs Harbour stood out because of its low household income rather than its high house prices.

Only one other city in the top 12 had lower house prices –Warwickshire in the UK had an average house price of $A294, 422, but its residents had much higher incomes – $53,414.

Hong Kong residents had the lowest incomes, $A34,469, and so struggled to buy homes at average house prices of $A394, 571.

Coffs Harbour has a labour force of 31,805 people, 2189 of them out of work, giving the city 29,616 working residents out of a population of 70,000 people, according to the small area labour market figures for the September quarter 2010.

Coffs Harbour also has an above-average number of veterans and disability support pensioners, many of whom have moved from capital cities.

Coffs Harbour Uniting Church pastoral care worker Joan Howlett said she was surprised by the ranking.

“I did not think it was so bad,” she said, “but there is no work around and if there is any, it is only casual stuff.

“Once you get to 18 there is no casual work.”

The joint licensee of Coffs Coast real estate agency Unreal Estate, Chris Hines, said he was very surprised by the city’s ranking as new residents were generally pleasantly surprised by local house prices.

“There are a lot of factors – we don’t have a large workforce and there is no one large industry or agriculture, we survive on a lot of smaller industries,” Mr Hines said. “Coffs has a lot of retirees and we also have a university so we have a lot of students who are not in the workforce.”

He said the area was much more affordable than centres like Port Macquarie or Ballina.



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