What levers are there to improve affordability of the basics in life: food, water, energy, housing?

“We need to tackle housing affordability urgently because the effects of unaffordable housing on society are becoming more visible by the day...We should not accept extreme price levels in our housing markets. High house prices are not a sign of city’s success but a sign of failure to deliver the housing that its citizens need.”
- Oliver Hartwich, Executive Director, The New Zealand Initiative*

Source: 13th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2017

According to the 2017 annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, the city of Sydney (where I have lived for most of my life) is now the second least affordable city to live in the world. And for the 12th year in a row, all five of Australia’s major metropolitan areas (cities with a population of more than one million) were ranked as “severely unaffordable”. A typical house in an Australian city is 5.6 times the median household income!

I’ve experienced and witnessed first hand the expensive level of housing in the country Down Under. I’m part of a generation of Australians that are struggling to scrounge together a deposit for their first home, let alone live comfortably while paying off the mortgage. Many people I know have had to choose between living with their parents well into their 30s while saving for a house (even when a spouse or children enter the scene), or accept a foreseeable future of renting (after finally getting their foot in the door in a very competitive market!).

But, sadly, this situation is not just happening in Australia.

As highlighted by the survey, the first principle of livability is affordability. “The best cities for middle-income and lower-income households are where governments have competently managed housing markets, by keeping housing affordable. In such cities, housing takes up less of the household budget, the cost of living tend to be lower and households are able to afford a more affluent life.”

I aim to track down those cities and find out what they are doing right!