Nathan’s Story

do't just stand there

My partner and I are 28. We went to an open for inspection of a house we liked and thought we could afford. We turned up just before he closed. There was an older couple there in their 50-60’s.

The price was ‘from $600k+’ on the sign in sheet we left with him.  On it was just our names and presumably the other couple’s names. It was a four bedroom house on a main road near a school. My partner loved it. We put in an offer of $620k. Three days later we got the call: “sorry the house has sold… for $700k.”

Three weeks later, we got a phone call from the agent. “I know you guys really liked that house, it’s by a school and has room for kids… Well I’d like to offer it for you first.  It’s just come on the market.  To rent.” 

I hung up.

That night my partner cried. She cried and cried and cried, in front of the TV, reading a book, for about 2 hours. Nothing I could do or say would comfort her.  I felt utterly useless.

We knew that after the tax breaks and concessions available to investors they would be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars less than we would have for that house.

We went to bed. I could tell she wasn’t asleep in the dark. After about an hour she finally said something low and casual…

‘I hate Australia.’

It wasn’t loud or angry or anything. I like food. Today was hot. I hate Australia.

We are third and fourth generation Australian citizens.

We know nine people now who have left Australia in the last two years.  They just moved overseas and we’re joining them. 

Living in Australia is financial SUICIDE for anyone under 30. Every ‘grant’, concession, tax break, assistance program does nothing but increase the cost of housing by that much and more. The $500k Stamp Duty threshold just gave developers an excuse to say ‘$500k is what you should be spending on a first home’ even if it cost $130k to build.

There is no prospect of further interest rate falls to look forward to – quite the reverse as rates go back to normal sometime during the life of our mortgage.  Plus having to use between 40 and 50 per cent of TWO incomes to buy a house – on top of FALLING real incomes.

We have no desire to become slaves to the baby boomer generation and for them to suggest to us that we ‘sacrifice more’ when we already have to retire later, fund their retirements and our own, pay HELP debt when they get to enjoy a free carry, while we endure the highest living costs on earth.

Australia has broken my partner’s heart – all impersonal so everyone’s hands are clean, but the consequences are the same.  I cannot forgive you.

We are on our way to New Zealand for two weeks, the USA for a month then Europe for another month, to find a new home elsewhere.  We’re sad to leave but economic slavery is still slavery, just harder to recognise.


Nathan’s Story is part of Prosper’s irregular series of spontaneous, unsolicited contributions from disenchanted Australians.  How many of our best and brightest must leave to fulfill their dreams? 

See also:

Anthony’s Story

Goodbye to high land prices



  1. Ben20-11-2014

    Nathan’s expectations are part of the problem. My first “house” didn’t have four bedrooms: it was a flat. Nathan doesn’t mention his savings habits either, but I’d be surprised if he had $120,000 for a deposit. People need to realise that buying a house requires discipline and saving (and possibly starting out in a one-bedroom flat). While I support Henry George’s ideas, I’m not convinced that these sort of sob stories are going to help bring about sensible taxation of property.

  2. Lyn20-11-2014

    I started laughing today when talking to someone who was telling me how he and his partner were living with his folks to save money to buy a house… in the country. They are shunning Sydney to live cheaply in the country where they won’t be slaves to mortgage debt. I laughed because that is exactly what I am doing, chasing lifestyle so we don’t have the noose of debt around our neck.

    People in my rural community are crazy if they think they will sell their place in the next 1-2 years at current asking price, but we are also happy to wait it out and rent cheaply.

    Choosing any other option than a massive mortgage is a much better lifestyle choice. At least then you can have children or fall ill!

  3. Karen20-11-2014

    We can relate so much to Nathan’s story and are thinking about doing the same. We are not under 30 but because we lost our first home when our business failed 20 years ago and we never believed in getting into debt over our heads, we never bought again. As prices spiralled up, we got basically left behind. While so many celebrated the windfalls brought on by property hyperinflation, our plight was completely ignored.
    Over the years we have saved up a considerable amount for a house but there is absolutely no way I’m giving in and supporting such a corrupt and destructive system.
    It’s not only unfair to people like us but to our young adult children are in a hopeless situation. We are looking overseas and if we go we will take our now highly successful business with us as well as our family.
    Australia has betrayed it’s youth and people like us.

  4. Anthony21-11-2014

    Why not just rent?

    When the market corrects you will be glad you didn’t buy. It will be a blessing in disguise.

    Property is just a thing. You don’t need to buy one to be ‘whole’.

    Be flexible, and your time will come.

  5. Frederick21-11-2014

    If only the one-bedroom apartments were put onto the market rather than kept vacant for speculators.
    300K for a decent one bedroom apartment (in Perth) is a ripoff. Properties in better locations can be had in Berlin for less than 50K euros.

  6. THEO22-11-2014

    The voter should be feeling the shame and responsibility for house prices and Australia’s debt. They voted for a corrupt Labor/Liberal governing monopoly for years. This monopoly allowed a minority called investors to become rich, subsidised by the majority of taxpayers. It introduced favourable vague tax exemptions, allowed NG to include established homes instead of only new homes and Capital gains taxes to remain stagnant instead of reflecting the huge gains in house prices. These are just to name a few. Therefore, I prefer the person would have stated ‘I hate the voter’ not Australia.

  7. John24-11-2014

    Ben your email reveals much about your position on who in Australia should be allowed to own homes. Most Australians, or at least traditional Australians, would think it reasonable to own a family home with rooms for children, a backyard and access to basic facilities like schools. In other words one should have the expectation to have a good environment in which to enable a family to thrive and in turn for them to produce a worthwhile nation. Maybe the problem is the ‘expectations’ of the investor class, the right to own a couple or more of investment properties so that one can make a good profit (at the expense of others and with no work) from capital gains, and of course in order to ensure this one should expect the right to an array of tax benefits to ensure that the houses appreciate in value. Ben if you have Georgist values I must be rampant neoliberal.

  8. Aaron28-11-2014

    Point of the story: the current system is simply turning homes for sale into homes for rent and doing so at a cost to society as a whole, not just the young.

    Renting in Australia is demonstrably LESS stable.

    If you focus on Nathan’s circumstances you’re just blaming the victim rather than the system.

  9. Pete30-11-2014

    I have just purchased after 10 years of renting and moving 7 times in that 10 year period, I swore that I would never become a mortgage slave to the banks, but have had enough of moving. NG must be abolished, I run my own business and can only deduct that part of turnover that is used for generating income, read that, generating income, not losses.

    Ben probably needs to aim lower for a first home, but I deeply identify and sympathize with his plight, having lived it, we have children with lives here and are unable to leave, but we would, and probably will to retire.

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