Rental and mortgage stress in the ACT are at their worst levels in suburbs of Tuggeranong, but overall housing stress hits hardest in the Belconnen town centre.
This is the conclusion drawn from suburb-level estimates of housing stress, produced by the University of Canberra's National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling. The modelling uses data from the most recent Census and the Australian Bureau of Statistics' survey of income and housing.
Housing stress is measured using the 30/40 rule. For a household to be in stress, it must spend 30 per cent or more of its total income on housing costs, and it must be in the bottom 40 per cent of income distribution across the country. Housing stress is a combination of rental and mortgage stress, which are measured using the same rule.
National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling director Professor Robert Tanton said the development boom delivering so many new apartments to Belconnen was likely a major reason it had the highest level of housing stress in Canberra, at 20.3 per cent of households.
"The newer ones tend to be more expensive compared to the older apartments in the older suburbs," Professor Tanton said.
"So they have higher mortgage costs and if you're an investor and you purchase something there, you're going to expect something more from it and your rent [charges] will be higher."
Belconnen is hit hardest when rental and mortgage stress are combined, but when you look at each category in isolation, parts of Tuggeranong lead the way at both ends of the scale.
Greenway has the highest proportion of mortgage stress in the capital, with 24.5 per cent of households affected. According to the most recent Census, the ACT average was just above 4 per cent.
Rental stress levels were much higher, at 14 per cent across the ACT. This comes as little surprise given those with mortgages generally have higher incomes and banks consider affordability before providing loans.
According to the modelling, Conder is the Canberra suburb hit hardest by rental stress, which impacts on 37.2 per cent of its households.
Nearly all of the worst-performing suburbs for rental stress were in the southern half of Tuggeranong or in West Belconnen.
"When you get down to Tuggeranong, the housing costs tend to be relatively consistent with areas like Gungahlin but the incomes tend to be lower," Professor Tanton said.
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While Tuggeranong generally struggled with rental stress levels, the suburb of Macarthur had Canberra's most desirable results with just 6.3 per cent of households affected.
Another Tuggeranong suburb, Fadden, was the best performer for overall housing stress at 5.8 per cent.
Reid had the premier mortgage stress statistics in the capital, with 5 per cent of households affected.
The ACT fares well against other Australian jurisdictions on housing stress. Canberra residents are the least likely in the nation to be in rental stress.
While the Northern Territory has the lowest proportion of houses in mortgage stress, the ACT is not far behind.
Professor Tanton said it was difficult to predict how housing stress levels might change when the 2021 Census came around, noting that a number of ACT government affordable housing initiatives were in their infancy and may impact on the results in two years' time.