Crossing borders for cheaper rent

Cole prepares for the move.
High rents are forcing some young Victorians to look interstate for more reasonably-priced accommodation. Sabrina Fock reports.

A young Melbourne couple say the cost of housing in Victoria is forcing them to move interstate.

Chris Wade, 28, and partner Jessica Wong, 23, who is pregnant with their second child, plan to move to Cairns with their two and-a-half year old son, Cole.

“You have no chance to get a good apartment without a job history,” said Wade, who once lived in a car while homeless.

Wade, who is studying networking at Swinburne University, said that support organisations had been unable to offer support because waiting lists were too long. It took him eight months to secure a room in a student residence.

Wong recently completed a degree in education at Swinburne. After she became pregnant with Cole they began to search for an apartment.

“We were scared not to find anything, because both of us were studying and haven’t a high income,” she said.

Had it not been for a $2400 a month payment from Centrelink and help from their parents, the couple would have been living below the poverty line.

They are not alone in this predicament, said Tenants Union of Victoria policy officer, Yaelle Caspi.

Cole prepares for the move
Cole prepares for the move

“Rents continue to increase, making it virtually impossible for young persons to find affordable accommodation that is close to services, universities and employment.

“They often face discrimination when trying to find a rental property. Real estate agents are generally more likely to choose someone who is older, who has a rental history and a higher income.”

Wade and Wong said the rent for a two-room apartment in Ringwood, found after a three-month search, accounted for 60 per cent of their income.

“The pregnancy was a big help,” Wong said of their success in finding a place to stay. “Our landlord wanted to assist.”

However, they have had to move to cheaper, smaller, accommodation twice after Cole’s birth. With a second child due soon, they are considering a move to Queensland where Wade once shared accommodation.

“We want a little house for our family,” Wong said of the planned move to Cairns. “But that’s … almost impossible in Melbourne.”

The couple will leave relatives and friends to move interstate after Wade finishes his studies here this year.

“We want to provide a nice home for our children,” Wong said. “They are more important than anything else.”