Owning a place to call home, achieving the great Australian dream, is for many slipping out of reach. Canberra's housing market is booming, with the stark news this week the median house price in the capital is on track to reach $1 million later this year.
It has always been known as the great Australian dream, not the great Australian guarantee. But the barriers to property ownership have been stretched ever higher. The tenor of conversation about houses has changed in Canberra. It seems unfathomable, unreachable, unthinkable prices are no longer the preserve of Sydney or Melbourne.
This is a new era for Canberra, which grew by making housing available to those who would come and forge a new life in a new city. But letting sprawling suburbs radiate from the city's planned core to offer affordable, government-built homes is no longer an option. The capital is growing older - and navigating the pains of growing in.
About 30 per cent of people buying property in Canberra are first-home buyers. There are still people who are able to enter the market for the first time.Through a combination of hard work and good luck there will always be new buyers who can find a way in.
But as that group shrinks, a serious reconsideration of the role of property in the lives of Canberrans will be needed.
Ready access to the property market will no longer be the key to financial security and wealth. A growing number of Canberrans may never own a home and will not be able to rely on the roof over their heads to provide certainty as they approach retirement.
This is a very significant shift. The time has come, however, to give it due consideration, before a generation grows up without the chance to put down roots on a patch of their own.
The advantages of buying over renting are regularly touted. Given the choice, most people would elect to buy. Few would give up the chance to put their earnings towards an asset which more often than not will offer them financial freedom when they leave the workforce.
But it's not a choice everyone gets to make. If buying a house becomes even harder, which it is certainly on track to do, the choices Canberra needs to make as a community will have to be different.
Investing in property has always come with a degree of risk. But investing in Canberrans' shared community, so people are not left behind, have roofs over their heads and an assured financial future, will always be a safe choice.
A wealthy, prosperous and beautiful city like this one would be irrevocably tarnished should it become inaccessible to the majority of its citizens.
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