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Can you guess how many rental properties Orange has for $300 a week or less?

January 3, 2022

Looking for somewhere to live.

By Peter Holmes

The pleas on social media were numerous, and heart-breaking.

As 2021 unfolded, and property prices continued heading northwards - remarkable, given we were in a global pandemic - the homeless and soon-to-be-homeless began using social media as a vehicle to seek somewhere, anywhere, to live.

Rental plea.

Each person had their own tale, but there were common threads - the landlord had increased the rent; the owners were selling to cash in; the owners were turning the place into a casual rental; there were 30 people at the open inspection, some offering six months worth of rent in advance; I offered more than the advertised price, no luck; I am a single mum, I can't get a look in; I have a dog, I can't get a look in.

"Really scary."

The Sydney obsession with real estate has lasted more than 20 years. It's what people talk about.

And now it's come to Orange.

Is there anything more boring than discussing real estate? If you've got it, you don't need to babble on about it. And if you don't, you really don't need to hear about how your friend's portfolio has doubled in value over the last decade.

For Orange, it is a perfect storm, with historically low interest rates; an influx of tree changers with their big fat pots of Sydney and Canberra money; the pivot to using investment properties as holiday rentals; the proximity of a high-paying mine that distorts wages; and long-term wage stagnation leaving those on lower incomes unable to save a deposit or afford ever increasing rental prices.

Land is being released, but it is expensive, and developers choose when to drip feed it out. Stick a house on top and you'll be at least $600-$700,000 in the hole.

The truth of the woeful housing situation in Orange for renters is laid bare by the numbers.

On New Year's Eve 2021, the property site had just 55 properties available for rent in Orange ( had 61 properties).

Of those 55, only five were priced at $400 or less per week.

One was priced at $300 or less.

Only 55 properties to rent in Orange (including Millthorpe and Molong) on on December 31, 2021, in a city of more than 40,000 people.

By comparison, a search across Greater Sydney showed that there were some 18,700 properties for rent (Domain had 16,000 listed).

There were about 5,300 properties in Sydney for $400 weekly or less (4,700 on Domain), and 1,500 costing up to $300 per week (1,350 on Domain).

More than 18,000 rentals in Sydney on December 31, 2021, on (once you zoom in the red dots multiply).

On a per capita basis, based on the figures, there was one rental in Orange available for every 760 people [all figures ballpark].

In Sydney there was one rental for every 280 people.

In Orange there was one rental for $400 or less per week for every 8,400 people.

In Sydney there was one rental for $400 or less per week for every 980 people.

In Orange there was one rental for $300 or less per week for every 42,000 people.

In Sydney there was one rental for $300 or less per week for every 3,400 people.

The figures are not flawless, of course, as some rentals are done privately, and properties can be of different sizes.

Also, not all properties are listed on or, however those sites are the nation's biggest players.

At any rate, they illustrate the huge per capita disparity between the city and the regions when it comes to affordable housing for people working average jobs - serving coffees, cleaning, on their feet in retail - or scratching a living on government support.

Meanwhile, a search on the casual rental site airbnb for a January 15-17, 2022 stay at a non-shared property in Orange yielded 122 results.

Holiday and casual rentals.

Complaining is easy, but solutions are harder to come by.

Real estate agents who have been around the block a few times will remind you that the market ebbs and flows over the long cycle, and that there have been times across the decades when renters held the upper hand.

This may be true, but it doesn't solve the issue right now for people who need a roof over their heads, and who feel as if they have no hope of ever owning a property, or renting one at a reasonable price when compared to stagnant wages.

Very little in government happens quickly, whether it be at local, state or federal level.

"To be honest, you have no chance ..."

I don't have the answer, as we live in a capitalist society where people are encouraged by government policies such as negative gearing to own not only their own house, but extras.

And politicians have skin in the game - in 2017 the ABC analysed the parliamentary register for property and found federal MPs owned an average 2.4 property titles each. So why would they care?

We need to be able to build safe and affordable housing quickly.

Yes, social housing plays a big role in that. But we also need to find a way for average workers to be able to afford somewhere to live, before the gap between the haves and the have-nots widens further and social unrest follows.

Do you have ideas for cheaper housing? Do we need more low-rise apartments? More villas or townhouses? More granny flats? Smaller blocks out of town with pre-fabs? Send your ideas to


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