Interview — Housing Affordability
In my interview I endeavoured to find out how much my interviewee knew about housing affordability in Sydney. I uncover the interviewees plans and hopes for their future in regards to housing as well as finding out their opinions about foreign buyers and high density living.
Probe 1 — splurge or save?
The first probe I designed is called ‘splurge or save?’. It is a small docket-style booklet that asks the user to document their expenses and income every day for a week. The aim of this probe is to understand the spending and saving habits of the user. In doing so, there is the potential to put into perspective how that particular user may maintain or adjust their habits to better save for their housing expenses.
I have visualised the response in the image below. What is important to note is that the user noted a $2000 expense for university fees. As this is a one-off large payment and not a weekly expense, I have presented it as a separate entity from the other everyday expenses in the top graph. The bottom graph only compares the income and everyday expenses to put into perspective how much the user spends and saves on average each week excluding any one-off expenses.
Probe 2 — Housing Research
I was hoping to get a few people to fill in the ‘splurge or save?’ probe however I was advised against this as a lot of people feel uncomfortable disclosing their expenses and income. So I opted to create another probe that would be fun and less intrusive. I came up with a survey that asks people to consider whether they would rent or buy a property to live in. They are then asked a series of questions prior to conducting market research in order to gauge what their expectations are. I then ask them to see if they can find a property currently on the market that meets their expectations and to comment on their findings.
Ideally if I were to do this task again, I would ask a lot more people to participate in order to gather a larger data set. I would also try to establish a completely anonymous online probe similar to the ‘Splurge or Save’ income/expenses probe, so that more people would feel comfortable to participate and disclose their data.
Conclusions — 5 Point Summary
1. It’s just not a priority.
My interviewee made it clear that moving out of home, whilst desirable, is not a priority for them. They are most excited to travel, “I mean ideally if I had like the kind of job that would earn me enough money, I would totally move out and like live by myself. But with the situation at the moment, it would just be travelling.” As a result, my interviewee has not been motivated to research or engage with the issue of housing affordability. Additionally, they have not started any budget or savings plan to assist them with renting or buying a property in the future.
2. One day…
My interviewee explained that whilst they wouldn’t mind high density living as an affordable option, they do hope to buy a detached house one day. The thought of having to raise a family in an apartment bothered them greatly. “That would be struggle street man. Isn’t that how they live in Hong Kong and China? They have an issue with space, and they have all these high-rises of apartment blocks, and these apartment blocks, they’re so tiny…It would suck especially if you have a family.” Often dubbed the Great Australian Dream, home ownership and having a backyard is an ideal for raising kids, “I’d like them to have the experience of having the space to do things.”
My interviewee explained that when they first move out of home in the near future, given the increasingly high property prices, renting would be the way to go. “I feel like that amount of money, I think above at least $400,000 or even $200,000, that seems like an impossible amount for me at this stage only just because I’m still a student trying to find a job and whatever. So renting would be more of like a thing I’m thinking about.”
The response to the ‘splurge or save?’ probe, shows that the user saved $387.85 during the week that the probe was conducted. If they were to save for a $200,000 home it would take them approximately 10 years to accumulate that sum. Of course there are a multitude of factors that can affect this calculation. For example, they may enter the workforce and earn a higher income or they may receive financial assistance from their family or the bank. Based on the data provided however, it appears that renting would be a more viable option for the user at this current stage of their life.
It is interesting to note that in the Housing Research survey, 4 out of 5 respondents said they would rent rather than buy. It is important to note however that they are all students 20-21 years of age. The only respondent who was interested in buying is 26 and in the workforce. This may be because the 26 year old has had a few more years to save and budget to buy a property.
4. Two is better than one
3 out of 5 respondents stated that they would be looking to move in with a partner to share the total costs of buying or renting a property. By sharing a bedroom, couples can save money by only needing a one bedroom property and splitting the costs. One respondent said they would live in a share house if living by themselves was too expensive.
5. Not far = No car!
All 5 survey respondents said that they would want to live near public transport and/or near shops. In doing so, there is less need for a car, which can be expensive to buy and maintain. At the same time, 4 of those respondents said they would prefer their property to also have parking spaces. Perhaps this is because although they would prefer to use public transport as it is generally less expensive than driving a car, having a car can be convenient if travelling to places not serviced by public transport.