When mother-of-four Jessica Weeks got a call on Mother's Day, she wasn't expecting anything other than well wishes for the special day. Instead, she was told to pack up her things and move out of their Batemans Bay rental property.
Now, Ms Weeks and her family live in a shed, their belongings scattered across the small space and overflowing outside.
The story is one of many that local residents in Canberra's surrounding NSW regions have experienced in the past year, as a pandemic-fatigued, high-income wave of people swapped their inner-city properties for a sea or tree change while enjoying the benefits of working from home.
The landlords of Ms Weeks' former home had decided to sell the house to take advantage of the housing market boom in the South Coast - a common trend in the past year as cashed-up city slickers pounced on properties in regional Australia.
The latest House Price Report for the March quarter showed median house prices in the Eurobodalla region increased by 18.7 per cent year-on-year.
But after being forced to find a new place to live, Ms Weeks was met with an even more competitive rental market.
The latest Domain Rent Report for the March quarter showed the asking rents for houses in the NSW regions surrounding Canberra soared over the past year, especially in Eurobodalla and Yass Valley.
The median asking rent for houses in Eurobodalla on the NSW South Coast increased by 22.7 per cent year-on-year to $518 per week, and Yass Valley also increased by 21.8 per cent to $530 per week.
With the bushfires at the start of 2020, followed by the onset of the pandemic, locals expected a decline in asking rent prices. Instead, it was the exact opposite.
"Rents just went through the roof in a matter of months, and it's now made it impossible for my family to find anything. All it takes is for an outsider to be earning $100 more than you, to be the preferred tenant," Ms Weeks said.
"If you can work remotely, why take properties from people who need them? We're not looking for a rental property for the hell of it; we actually need a home ... It's unfair to the locals."
Before the pandemic and the bushfires, finding a rental property for Ms Weeks was "a lot easier and affordable".
"Between raising my young kids, including an autistic daughter, and working at a cafe nearby, I can't afford to put every dollar towards rent; otherwise, I won't have much funds leftover for anything else," Ms Weeks said.
"If people have disposable income, that's good for them, but there are people like us who don't have that luxury."
Yass Valley local Vanessa Forsyth said while the influx of interstate residents to regional areas of NSW was "great for the local economy", it made it near impossible for the single mum to look for a house herself.
"Six months ago, my lease was coming to an end, and because there was a shortage of stock in the rental market, I was on the brink of homelessness," she said.
The Bango Wind Farm development that runs between Yass Valley and Boorowa is another driving factor to Yass Valley's rising rent prices, Ms Forsyth said, with companies renting houses for their employees working on the site.
"You're really competing with new people coming into Yass who have more money," Ms Forsyth said.
Ms Forsyth said she's hoping to move to Canberra, but considering the capital is the most expensive city in which to rent a house and a unit, she's had to remain in her $450-a-week rental property in Yass.