Australia’s housing crisis pushing rent to ‘unsustainable’ rates for international students

australian housing crisis
A Chinese tourist takes a photograph with her phone as she walks underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Source: AFP

The Australian housing crisis is causing a 7.9% increase in rent from 2021 to 2022, according to a report by real estate firm BONARD.

Rent rates for private housing in every state and purpose-built student accommodation, provided by companies including Scape, UniLodge, Iglu and Yugo, are increasing as well.

An international student named Vidushi told SBS that her rent for her purpose-built housing was 165 Australian dollars a week four years ago. It is now around A$300.

“It was almost like double increase in the price,” Vidushi told The Feed. “So of course, your budgeting system does get affected.”
australian housing crisis

People walk past empty tables and chairs in Melbourne on August 19, 2021, as the city passes 200 days in hard lockdown since the start of the pandemic. The Australian housing crisis is pushing weekly rent up to A$600 for a single room in some of the country’s most expensive suburbs. Source: AFP

Australian housing crisis and its impact on international sutdents

Australia’s housing shortage is clashing with the large numbers of international students returning to Australian universities after the borders reopened to them after the pandemic.
This has led to weekly rent of up to A$600 to rent a single room in some of the country’s most expensive suburbs, with the fastest-growing cohort turning to share housing aged between 55 and 64, new data has revealed.

Professor Alan Morris from the Institute for Public Policy and Governance at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) said the housing crisis has “dented” Australia’s reputation among international students.

Speaking to SBS, Morris, who has conducted research into precarious housing for international students, called purpose-built student accommodation as the “McDonald’s of student housing” because “you know what to expect”.

“But it’s very, very expensive.”

In the 12 months to May 2023, the cost of living in Australia rose 5.6%, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

A analysis found that an international student has around A$13 for his own expenses each week, after paying the median rental price in the capital cities which is around A$500 a week.

Financial strains aside, international students also face a lack of information about their rights in the private rental market.

“One thing that I would point out with the international student cohort is sometimes they are more vulnerable to [abuse] simply because of the lack of awareness of the pricing or what prices are appropriate, what locations are safe, unsafe, and what the kind of pricing should be based on location as well,” CISA president Yageneh Soltanpour told SBS.