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Rent hike forces Aussie to move back in with parents: ‘My generation can’t get ahead’

Renters like Gemma Upson-McPike are struggling to save and unable to get ahead, as rents reach record highs across the country.

A young Aussie has claimed sky-high rent prices are stopping her generation from getting ahead, after an unaffordable hike forced her to move back in with her parents. And she’s not the only one facing this dilemma.

Fitness trainer Gemma Upson-McPike moved out of home five years ago and had been paying $390 per week for a one-bedroom apartment in Melbourne’s Malvern. But she was recently told her rent would be increasing to $450 per week.

The 26-year-old told Yahoo Finance she earned an “average” salary and was already frugal with her spending, but could not afford the rent increase and was unable to negotiate it down with the real estate agent.

Renter Gemma Upson-McPike
High rental prices are forcing some young Aussies to move back in with their parents. (Source: TikTok/Instagram)

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Upson-McPike is now in the process of moving to her parents home on the Bellarine Peninsula. While she now faces an hour and a half drive to get to work in Melbourne each day, she said she feels “very lucky” she was able to move back home.

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“I was talking with my parents and was like, 'if I keep renting at this amount, I’m going to have absolutely no savings and I’m going to be 40 with no savings',” Upson-McPike said.

“I’m very lucky I can do that but what about the people who can’t? What are they supposed to do?”

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Unit rents in Melbourne hit a new median high of $550 per week in March, recent data from Domain revealed, while house rents reached $570 per week.

Across the combined capitals, the median unit rent is now $620 per week, with March marking the 11th consecutive quarter of record-breaking growth. Meanwhile, house rents have reached $630 per week.

Domain chief of research and economics Dr Nicola Powell told Yahoo Finance there would likely be a “tipping point” in 2024 that would see rents stop rising, but couldn’t say exactly when renters could expect relief.

Renter left with ‘no savings’

Upson-McPike said she has “no savings” after spending more than $20,000 on rent alone last year. This is one factor she claimed is holding her generation back.

She would love to own a home one day, but fears that feat is not something achievable for her in the near future.

“There’s just no way. I have no savings at the moment. There is no way of paying that amount of [rent] per week and saving enough for a deposit,” she told Yahoo Finance.

Living alone has become increasingly expensive, with Brisbane tenant Abbey O’Hagan recently revealing she was struggling to find somewhere to live after her rent increased by $100 to $600 per week.

Upson-McPike believes her generation gets a “bad rap” for not working hard enough or making enough sacrifices.

“There are so many people in their twenties that are living so frugally because they have to and they are not enjoying the years that they should be enjoying,” she said.

“House prices and rental prices versus wages at the moment are far different to how it was 20 years ago.”

More young people living with parents

Upson-McPike isn’t the only young Aussie that has had to move back in with their parents in the face of rising rents.

More young Australians are living with their parents, the latest Household Income and Labour Dynamics (HILDA) survey of 17,000 people found.

Around 54.3 per cent of men aged 18 to 29 were living with their parents in 2021, up 7.7 per cent compared to 2001. Meanwhile 47.6 per cent of women the same age were living with their parents, up 10.8 per cent over the last two decades.

HILDA survey co-director Professor Roger Wilkins said the shift in the nature of Australian households that began in the early 2000s was continuing.

“The social and economic forces that have driven an increase in the number of young adults living with their parents are still present,” Wilkins said.

“We’ve seen a rise in higher education participation, declining full-time employment opportunities for young people, a rising cost in housing, and a trend towards later marriage and family formation.”

A separate Finder survey found one in 10 Australian adults had moved back with their parents in the 12 months to October 2023. Of those returning home, almost a third did so because their rent had become “unaffordable”. Another 30 per cent did so to save for a home deposit.

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