Sydney risks becoming city with no grandchildren, young families need affordable housing, report reveals

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A major city is at risk of becoming a “city without grandchildren” as the housing crisis pushes young families out of one of the country’s most populous places.

A report from NSW Productivity Commissioner, Peter Achterstraat, revealed Sydney lost twice as many people aged 30 to 40 between 2016 and 2021 as it had gained.

The report found 35,000 people moved to the city, but 70,000 chose to leave.

Despite Sydney workers receiving among the highest average wages in the country within recent years, the report found the state’s capital city is losing a significant number of its working age population to other states and regional NSW.

About two of every three departures from Sydney are from those aged between 25 and 64, a number the report said shows it’s not just “grey-nomads” and retirees exiting the city.

Mr Achterstraat said: “If we don’t act, we could become a city with no grandchildren.”

“Many young families are leaving Sydney because they can’t afford to buy a home. Or they can only afford one in the outer suburbs with a long commute.”

Mr Achterstraat said the exodus of talent demonstrates the need for greater housing density to help Sydney become a more affordable place to live and suggested “building up” inner Sydney suburbs will help boost productivity and wages.

“Sydney needs hundreds of thousands of new homes over the next two decades. Building more in the places people want to live is a key piece to solving the housing jigsaw puzzle,” he said.

“45,000 extra dwellings could have been built between 2017 and 2022, with no extra land, by allowing higher buildings. This could have seen prices and rents five-and-a-half per cent lower (or) $35 a week for the median apartment or a saving of $1,800 a year for renters.”

NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said: “The reality of rising housing prices and lack of available housing is making it harder for people to stay in the same suburbs as their families or live close to their jobs.”

“The Opposition has a choice – they can get behind important reform that will help house the next generation or they can continue to oppose reform and turn their back on young kids trying to bed down roots in NSW.

“That’s why the Labor government has introduced the boldest housing reforms in 12 years, we’ve created new housing policies that are designed to get supply moving and overcome this problem.

“If there’s no supply, there’s no homes for the next generation. The NSW Government is not going to turn their back on housing, it’s a basic need.

Last month Adrian Tucci, 38 packed up his family of four and moved from Leichhardt in Sydney’s inner west to Cairns in Far North Queensland.

Mr Tucci and his wife Nicole recently purchased a block of three units in the beach side city for less than $1 million.

“It was a difficult decision to leave family and friends,” he told the ABC.

“However, the financial stress that we would have been under had we stayed and bought a property [in Sydney] would have ultimately led to a far harder and sad life.”

When Jo and Andy Roe had their second child, they knew it was time to upsize from their two-bedroom apartment on Sydney’s lower north shore.

But when the family was unable to find a larger home or an affordable price, they decided to move to Canberra in 2021.

“A small two-bedroom apartment where we were in Sydney was the price of a four-bedroom house in the suburbs in Canberra,” Mr Roe told the ABC.

“We really loved Sydney. And still do. We had good jobs, great friends.

“It was really about needing three bedrooms for less than $2 million.”

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