4 in 5 Aussies say soaring house and rent prices the worst thing about life in Australia for newcomers

6 February 2024

Skyrocketing property prices and rents have led to more than 80 per cent of Aussies naming the nation’s housing and rental crises as one of the worst things for new arrivals in the country, with a report revealing South Australians and Queenslanders particularly see record-high home costs as a key clog for immigrants. Cost of living was the second most common aspect selected by Aussies, with 73 per cent voting the sheer expense of living in the Land Down Under as a national pitfall – particularly for those aged 35-54, at 80 per cent.

The findings were derived from a survey of an independent, nationally representative panel of 1012 Australians commissioned by immigration assistance and advice platform Immigration to Australia, which sought to find out what Australians think are the best and worst things in Australia for newcomers in the face of rising migration and soaring skill shortages. The full report can be viewed here: https://immigration2australia.com/aussies-vote-on-the-best-worst-aspects-of-australia-for-new-arrivals/.

Property and rental prices top the worst things about living in Australia

Respondents were presented with 15 of the worst possible aspects about Australia for news arrivals, with the list also including traffic, the isolated location, distances between destinations, and work and residence visa difficulties. Poor internet quality was chosen by 59 per cent of respondents as the third most common contra for arrivals, while big distances between destinations came in fourth, chosen by 50 per cent of respondents. The report, which also broke down the respondents by age and State, revealed that 88 per cent of over-55s (the highest proportion of any age group) believe the house and rent crisis is among the nation’s worst five aspects.

The findings follow near record levels of international immigration, with the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing migrant arrivals increased 73 per cent to 737,000 in the 2022-23 financial year, from 427,000 arrivals the previous financial year. It also comes after the government revealed its 2023-24 permanent migration program allocated 190,000 places to address the nation’s persistent and emerging skills shortages, with major shortages identified in 36 per cent of occupations assessed in Australia last year.

States with biggest house price hikes more concerned about property

For South Australians and Queenslanders, the house and rent crisis was the most common pitfall selected for newcomers, at 89 per cent and 85 per cent respectively, and follows record-high price growth across both Adelaide and Brisbane. Adelaide collected a 60 per cent rise in house medians between September 2019 and September 2023, according to data from Domain Group. It was the largest leap clocked by an Australian capital city during that time, with house medians there at a record $875,034. In Brisbane, house medians also rose to record highs, reaching $888,285 last quarter, while both house and unit rents soared to new heights of $600 per week and $560 respectively.

Alon Rajic, Founder and Managing Director of Immigration to Australia, says: “As Australians face record high housing and living costs amid a nationwide skills shortage, these results not only reveal the biggest perceived challenges for newcomers, but what’s worrying us people in each state and age group. While these findings showcase just how much the house and rent crisis is weighing on Aussie minds, we can particularly see how rapid-fire property price growth is hurting the hip pocket of South Australians and Queenslanders. For Victorians, on the other hand, property and rent price concerns were equal to cost-of-living unease, chosen by 80 per cent of respondents.”

Cost of living a bigger concern for Gen X and Millennials

The housing and rental crisis was the biggest concern for over-55s, at 88 per cent, compared with 77 per cent of those aged between 18 and 34. For Aussies aged 35-54, cost of living was the most common selection for worst things facing newcomers, compared with just 65 per cent of over-55s.

Alon says: “With all Living Cost Indexes rising by up to 9 per cent over the 12 months leading up to September 2023, we know most Australians are feeling the pinch. But these figures reveal that middle-aged Aussies, and perhaps those with school-aged dependents, see the sheer expense of living here as a major blight for arrivals.

Location isolation more worrying for older Aussies

Two thirds (63%) of over-55s believe the isolated location and distance from Europe and the US are a top-five negative for migrants to Australia, compared with 53 per cent of 35–54-year-olds and just 44 per cent of 18–34-year-olds.

Distance remains an issue for over-55s even locally, with 61 per cent finding the distance between destinations as one of the worst five things about Australia. Respondents aged 35-54 found this less of an issue, at 46 per cent, followed by 39 per cent of 18–34-year-olds.

However, Immigration to Australia found that the younger the age group, the more concerned they are about Australia being behind the rest of the world. Almost a third (30%) of respondents aged 18-34 believe Australia is a little behind in terms of innovation and products becoming available here, compared with 19 per cent of 35–54-year-olds and 18 per cent of over-55s who believe this is also a worst-five issue.

Best things about living in Australia named

The Immigration to Australia survey also explored the best aspects for newcomers to the country, with respondents presented with 14 of the country’s biggest attractions, including the weather, friendly people, and a safe society. The free and high-quality healthcare system was favoured by the highest proportion of respondents across all ages and states, at 57 per cent. The freshness and quality of Australian food was the second most common, chosen by 50 per cent, while the weather was a close third, at 48 per cent.

The weather’s a win for newcomers, but only in some states

While 57 per cent of West Australians said the weather was one of the best things for new arrivals, just 34 per cent of Victorians felt the same. A relatively higher proportion of over-55s respondents (52%) group also rated the weather as a win, compared with just 38 per cent of those aged 18-34.

A relatively higher proportion of over-55s also rated the friendly people and laidback culture as a top five positive for newcomers, at 48 per cent, with the attribute ranking lower for under 34s, at 43 per cent.

Young Aussies rate Australia’s low crime more than boomers

Immigration to Australia found that the younger the age group, the safer they likely feel in Australia. More respondents aged 18-34 valued the nation’s safety and low crime rate, at 45 per cent, compared with just 36 per cent of 35-54s, and 31 per cent of over-55s.

Alon says: “Our survey further reveals what we value about the Land Down Under, with the weather, healthcare and our quality food seen as major magnets for immigrants, with Western Australians particularly placing stock in our climate. Our findings on Australia’s low crime rate speaks to generational perceptions of how safe our shores are and to the impact of social media on how different age demographics see crime rates. Interestingly, our crime rates have slowly declined since 1990 and for young Aussies our safety is clearly a source of pride.”