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Independent living


Now there''s a view!
Recently it seems many of my friends are moving from rental to property ownership, we must all be drifting into our 30s! A common agreement around the lively discussions on affordability etc is that the cities are over-rated and that a career that is somewhat independent of the ‘system’ holds a lot more value beyond mere financial comparisons.
I might be able and prepared to climb the corporate ladder for status, esteem and the six figure salary package that will allow me to realise my dreams, both for now and in the long term…BUT…
The trade off for buying into all this is that the one piece of security to which most of us tend to subscribe, ‘bricks & mortar’, becomes a daunting mirage on a foreign horizon. Real estate pricing in Canberra is simply outrageous! Someone was telling me recently that proportional to our income etc, Canberra’s real estate is some of the most expensive in the world. And when you are vying for a rental property with ten other applicants, rental fees also quickly become absurd. The place we rent went up $40 per week on its listed price, simply owing to supply-deman. Last month we recieved a letter from the agency saying rent was going up another $20 with an opening to end the lease, but a recommendation that, ‘given current market circumstances’ we best stay with our tenancy.
So, what to do? Well a few of my friends have turned their attentions away from the cities and to the peripheral suburbs and rural ‘hobby farm’ properties. Wow! 3 bedroom house in gorgeous sub-tropical rainforest, a walk to the local town where murals adorn many a building and there’s a band at the pub every Friday and Saturday night. Polished wooden floorboards, high ceilings, outdoor breakfast balcony, developed designer gardens, central heating, double story… the list goes on. They ended up paying another $25k more than the original listed price because another couple wanted it – $340k in all. Move that to Canberra, expect to pay $1.1m.
The catch is that they can work from home. Pete has his laptop and broadband, Anita is taking time out to look after baby no. 1 and will likely return to policy writing. When you start to make these comparisons, a job that pays only half as much but allows you to work from home can swing some impressive benefits. I think we will see a lot more of this independent living over the next few years, as technology allows us to work from wherever and greed prevents us living together. And when the property developers think they’ll snot the rural prices, we’ll just start buying blocks of land and sharing development/infrastructure costs. The modern, hi-tech, wi-fi, affordable community style housing our hippy parents envisaged for us 40 years ago.
Last night I typed in key words like ‘architect design’ and ‘waterfron’ and ‘close to town’ into some of the leading online real estate search engines – the results were amazing. I’m converted! Now, just need to figure out how to convince my boss I am more productive with a laptop on my tummy lying on the couch…

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