A sudden rise in rental vacancies in the Illawarra has lead to more concerns about the rising cost of living, but a new study sets out to prove that this is not the case.

The study conducted by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at the University of Canberra and AMP says the average family was $224 better off in 2009-10 then in 2003-04.

Instead the study suggests that “bigger lifestyles” contribute to the pressure on many households rather then price rises.

”If there are pressures they are coming from keeping up with the Joneses and our higher expectations,” Ben Phillips, the author of the study, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

”We’re spending bigger, and on a wider range of goods and services, such as private schools, and we’re spending more on discretionary or luxury items, like restaurants,” he said.

Erynn Peperkamp of Huxley and Partners Real Estate says the rising cost of living has contributed to rental vacancies in the Illawarra, but there are other factors.

“A combination of rumoured [lower] University intake, students are finding their own accommodation, and people are moving out of Wollongong,” he said.

However, the University of Wollongong says it had a modest increase in student numbers this year.

Mr Peperkamp says that rising prices of rental properties has also contributed to the lack of renters in the Illawarra.

“You can’t get under $250 for a basic 2 bedroom,” he said.

“With rent creeping up, young people are staying at home and saving their money.

“It’s supply and demand, and it will go up and down.”

Australia’s incomes are relatively high compared to other countries, but Sydney’s cost of living is above that of other major cities.

The study titled, ‘Prices these days! The Cost of Living in Australia,’ also found that there has been no large price increase on basic necessities, but there is more income spent on optional goods and services.

JOUR314 Rental Audio Soltys

Words by Kayla Osborne
Audio by Sean Soltys
Images by Hannah Robertson

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