Sydney renters looking for a tree change can find a house for half the price in some regional towns.
While the NSW capital is no longer the most expensive city in the nation for tenants, with house rents falling for the first time in 12 years and the city losing its title to Canberra, asking rents remain sky-high at a median $540 a week.
But outside the city, Cowra, south-west of Bathurst, has the cheapest accommodation in the state with a median asking rent of $250, according to the latest Domain Rental Report.
“It’s God’s country out here in Cowra,” said Stephen Haslam, licensee of LJ Hooker Cowra, who made the move from Sydney’s northern beaches four years ago.
While Cowra rents remained flat in the past year, they rose 19 per cent over five years.
“You’ve got a population of about 13,000 but it’s got good infrastructure and with that infrastructure it draws work opportunities, so that’s why the tenant side of things does well,” Mr Haslam said.
He said the town’s affordable house prices also encouraged investors to buy in town, ensuring a good selection of rentals.
Young, about 70 kilometres south of Cowra, was the second-cheapest place to rent in NSW with median asking rent at $270, up 3.8 per cent in the year and 8 per cent over the past five years.
Stuart Norton, principal of Norton Realty, said prices had risen because there weren’t enough rentals available.
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“When it’s tight, there are 40 to 50 rental properties to rent. It’s always been tight, the lack of availability is keeping [the rental market] strong,” Mr Norton said.
But he said market rents were driven by affordability and the median income of the area.
“We’re a regional area, the base salary is not $100,000 like in Sydney. It’s reflective of what people are earning,” said Mr Norton.
The Upper Hunter Shire came in third with a median asking rent of $300, up some 7.1 per cent in the past year but still 6.3 per cent lower than five years ago.
Licensee of Raine & Horne Muswellbrook Grant Jupe said the region’s rental market closely followed the mining downturn a few years ago.
“It’s still correcting from that period. But employment has really picked up again in a number of sectors, including the mining sector. A new mine has opened up in Muswellbrook and that’s why we’re seeing prices improve again and vacancy rates falling,” said Mr Jupe.
“A large portion of our community is involved in mining. It’s a high-income industry so it’s good value for money.”
The cheapest unit rentals were in Albury at $200 a week, followed by Greater Taree and Wagga Wagga.