"If Australia ever needed an enema, Sydney would be the place for it."
Polluted, overcrowded, over-hyped and ridiculously expensive. That's how one person has described Australia's largest city amid a debate over whether a member of "generation rent" can ever hope to break into the housing market.
Sydney nurse Damien Davis, 30, pays $200 (NZ$218) a week in rent on a take-home salary of A$60,000 and has managed to save just A$6000 in six years. With unit prices in his area averaging more than A$1 million, he complains that even forgoing his annual trip overseas wouldn't have made much difference.
"There are no pockets in Sydney that are affordable any more," he told news.com.au.
According to CoreLogic data, the median dwelling price in Sydney was A$795,000 in February, 18.4 per cent higher than a year ago. The median house price is A$928,000, and the median unit price is A$745,000.
It comes as Treasurer Scott Morrison today urged young families looking to get a foot in the housing market to move out of Sydney.
"For young people who are thinking about, 'can I buy a house in Sydney or can I buy a house in Melbourne or Brisbane?' or things like that, there is an option if people want to take it in places like Tamworth," he told 2GB's Ray Hadley today.
"That doesn't mean they have to, but it's important these towns can say to people 'you can have a future here,' and there's a great future for families in Tamworth."
Mr Morrison was in the north east NSW town of Tamworth discussing Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce's decentralisation strategy as a means of addressing the nation's growing housing affordability problem.
Earlier this year, Sydney ranked as the second most expensive city in the world behind only Hong Kong in Demographia's annual international housing affordability index.
Demographia - which uses slightly different figures to CoreLogic - put Sydney's "median multiple", the median house price (A$1.077m) divided by the median household income (A$88,000), at 12.2.
In other words, a typical house costs more than 12 years' wages.
According to the Bank for International Settlements, Australia's household debt is now 123 per cent of GDP, the third highest in the world behind Switzerland and Denmark, fuelled by record low interest rates.
Research firm Digital Finance Analytics has warned that one in five Australians could be in serious trouble if rates were to rise by just 50 basis points.
Mr Davis' story generated a huge response, with most commenters falling into one of two camps: either he needs to manage his money better, or go somewhere cheaper.
"Very simple solution: get the hell out of Sydney, a polluted, over-crowded, over-hyped over-sold s***hole," wrote reader TheSandbagger. "If Australia ever needed an enema (which it does), Sydney would be the place for it."
Carlos added: "Then get out of Sydney! If there is one job in Australia that's portable right now, it's nursing. Jobs are advertised on north side of Brisbane all the time. But if ya gotta live in Sid-a-ney then this is what you look forward to. It will suck the life out of you. You couldn't pay me enough to live there!"
Garry Watkins described Sydney as a place "to only try and survive". "Apart from the more stable weather, it is still an extremely unfriendly city," he wrote. "It is full of arrogant 'people' all trying climb over one another in an attempt to earn money. Property is completely out of the reach of the average person.
"I completed regret the day that I left Hobart. Actually the housing crisis here in Sydney is the least of this city's worries. Sydney is just plain awful and unfortunately it is the people that make it that way."
Reader Cesteele29 wrote: "Four words. Don't. Buy. In. Sydney. Easy, problem solved. Move out of the metropolis, and go get a job in a rural community. As a nurse you won't have any troubles finding work. You'll be able to have a gorgeous house for around A$400,000."
Mick53 agreed, writing: "Get out of Sydney. Plenty of rural/regional towns that need nurses and a four-bedroom house with two bathrooms will set you back one third of Sydney's prices. If it is nightlife you are after, try Lismore or Ballina. Byron Bay is nearby and the Gold Coast an hour away and you still have your beaches, with far less people on them."
DaveHempy wrote: "You are kidding, mate, move to a cheaper area. The most I have earned in a single year is A$29,000. At 46 I own a home, at 26 I had nothing and owed the bank A$10,000. Not everyone can live 5km from the city. Move to [Drouin], 98km out of Melbourne a great suburb that has affordable houses."
MichaelChan wrote: "Pull ya head in, Damien. A$60,000 after tax is a fortune to many. But if your pals are investment bankers and you are getting plastered on A$40 cocktails on a Thursday night at The Ivy, I can see why you might feel poor."
MichaelLoome wrote: "People are upset because young people can't afford the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney? How about live somewhere else and commute like the majority? How about you take your valuable profession to the country or remote Aboriginal communities. Hard to feel sorry for this person with so much going for them when other people have real issues. This also doesn't help the argument to get rid of negative gearing."
princess010607 wrote: "This is hilarious. The guy complains about not being able to afford to buy, but goes on an overseas trip each year? His rent works out to be A$180 per person (if divided between the five) or A$225 if divided between the four bedrooms. What is he spending the (roughly) A$49,000 left over on? While this story is supposed to highlight how expensive it is to rent or buy, it just shows an example of a person unwilling to set goals in life and do what's needed to achieve them."