This article about single parent housing options in Australia was last updated in 2021.
I believe every person in Australia should have access to safe and secure housing. It’s an integral part of maintaining good health and feeling part of a community.
A shortage of affordable housing and high rents (highest in 12 years) means people on low incomes are increasingly vulnerable to homelessness. Single parent families, in particular, spend the most on housing as a percentage of their weekly gross income.
And this was before COVID hit.
Did you know …
Single parents paid hours fell more than 30% in the depths of the crisis in April. By December, even though there were no significant restrictions in place anywhere in Australia, paid hours for single parents remained 10% lower than they had been a year earlier.
Employment for single parents fell more than 10% between December 2019 and September 2020 and is still 5% lower than in December 2019. About 50,000 single parents dropped out of the workforce altogether during the first lockdown – 11% of all single parents in Australia.
Now, be assured that this isn’t a piece about COVID but it is important to show how the socio-economic changes that are happening throughout Australia are partially because of it. It doesn’t mean you need to worry yourself sick about it. But what it does show, is that it is time for strategic thinking and looking outside the square when it comes to you housing options as a single parent.
Thinking outside the square doesn’t just encompass the different options of housing you could choose, which I will go into depth later on, but also how you apply for the housing.
Because it is not a level playing field when it comes to things like rentals, loans, availability and even support when compared with other coupled parents.
Competing in the rental market as a single parent can be pretty deflating. Numerous people turn up each time. As single mothers we rely mainly on single parent pension from Centrelink, sometimes some PAYG work or some self-employment income. In most cases, child support is non-existent, basically our finances more often than not, look terrible. Add to that some of us don’t start off with rental history. Combine all that and we look like pretty bad applicants on paper when going up against families, or double income no kid couples.
It’s often difficult for us to get to open homes because we are juggling so many things and getting the paperwork completed can be very daunting and time consuming. With many of us unable to rely on support from others, it’s a battle we do all so often when it comes to the private rental market.
We don’t have it easy, that’s for sure.
But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There are ways for single parents to find affordable housing options in Australia and ways to go about getting them that aren’t such a headache.
THE PRIVATE RENTAL
No, it’s not a myth, there are still some affordable and accessible private rentals around, it all depends where you are looking.
I recommend a few different things here.
Firstly, expand your search radius. Look 15 – 20kms minutes further away. People always pay a premium for closer located housing. However, if you have a car and can commit to getting up 20 minute earlier you are more likely to find a less competitive rental and something a little cheaper than the housing close to everything.
And when it comes to writing that application there are a few ways to get yours noticed, above other applicants. Make sure you get the rental application before you go to the inspection, so you have it ready to give at the inspection. Include a letter to the landlord in the application that outlines why you would be a good tenant and follow up a few days later, always ask why, if you did not get it.
Make sure you keep copies of everything that’s needed to go into an application because you will need it again in the future. This is a great time saving hack to prevent a constant scramble every time you want to apply for a private rental.
SHARING A HOUSE
When it comes to considering single parent housing options in Australia, sharing a house is definitely worth considering.
This can happen two ways.
Either someone is offering a room in their house plus common space for a reduced price or two people (sometimes more) team up to find a rental together.
This is a great way to reduce costs, such as
- Initial bond
- Ongoing rental expenses
- Household expenses
It can allow you to live in a bigger house in a better neighbourhood. Plus, it’s likely you won’t all need to apply for the rental, so it saves time and energy on the formal application process and getting references.
In my experience, if your home has enough space, you do your due diligence and make sure you have good boundaries and good communication, home sharing is an excellent choice. It does more than help your financial capabilities and housing options. Sharing a home can help with your social isolation and emotional wellbeing. We all need a support network after all.
State and Federal governments across Australia provide some housing that is commonly referred to as government housing or public housing.
These are usually 1,2 or 3 bedroom and are provided in order of need or what is called priority.
The conditions are different for every State, but generally you may apply if you:
- Do not exceed the income and asset eligibility limits
- Do not own or part own a house, unit or flat
- Do have Australian citizenship or permanent residency status
- Do not owe money from a previous public housing tenancy or Bond loan
To apply you need to fill put the General Public Housing Application form. Just google that for your state.
The wait can be quite long, sometime years so you really need to think ahead if this is something you have the option to do.
Apply now for the future and look at the other options here for the immediate need of housing.
Community or social housing is a secure and affordable long-term rental which is managed by a not-for-profit organisation, specifically for people on low incomes, special needs or escaping from domestic and family violence with children.
It is very difficult to get into as there is not a huge amount available.
The best way to find out is to search Social Housing within your state and see what organisations come up. You can then apply directly.
It might seem strange to mention this but if you are a single parent that has money from a divorce settlement or have been saving then you could look at purchasing your own little place.
I would recommend looking at the following:
FIRST HOME OWNERS GRANT
First Home Owners Grant is great for saving on a down payment, if you haven’t owned a property in your name in the past
FAMILY HOME GUARANTEE
This brand-new scheme is especially to help single parents after separation. It allows the purchase of a home with as little as a 2% deposit!
Further reading: Updated info on the Family Home Guarantee.
Check out Finder as it has some really great competitive loan selections.
Mortgage Mates is a new organisation that matches people together for purchasing a home as a business choice. It means reduced deposit and mortgage payments. Who could you team up with and get a loan with? Think best friends or parents.
FINAL WORDS ABOUT SINGLE PARENT HOUSING OPTIONS AUSTRALIA
At the end of the day, housing is expensive and often competitive to get into.
For this reason, single parents must get creative for the opportunity to settle in a secure home.
Find a solution to make life easier and less stressful without a constant struggle to keep an expensive rental. Don’t live a life in which you are constantly stressed, overworked and with little time for other things, including your kids.
Hopefully my suggestions will help you find another way.