Rents rise as building boom overtakes census
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
TOODYAY’S recent housing sales boom appears to have overtaken latest Australian census results published last month.
The census partly pre-dates an influx of new home buyers after COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 prompted many city dwellers to move to country towns.
Population shifts across the nation were boosted by increased business reliance on home-based work using new high-speed internet connections not previously available in rural locations such as Toodyay.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures published last month show that the number of dwellings in the Shire of Toodyay grew by only 12 since 2016, a figure disputed by some local real estate agents who report unprecedented local sales over the past year.
It also casts doubt on a reported shire population growth of 162 since 2016 to a total of 4601 last August.
Dozens of new family-sized homes are being built (pictured above) in Toodyay’s long-dormant River Hills estate near the town’s school and rents have skyrocketed in the past year due to increased demand for local housing.Read more
Census data collected last August showed median rents of $285 a week in Toodyay, well short of this year’s $350 a week average, according to local real estate agent Tony Maddox.
He said the age of new people buying homes in Toodyay – especially in the past six months – was lower than five years ago, with many now aged in their 30s and 40s.
SOCIAL media posts indicate that low-income tenants displaced by the sales boom are struggling to find alternative accommodation because rents are now too high, causing some families to leave town.
About 43 per cent of Toodyay residents were reported to own their homes outright, compared with 29 per cent in the city.
A further 40 per cent had mortgages, and 11.5 per cent were renters.
About a quarter of all Toodyay households reported weekly incomes of less than $650 last August.
Median mortgage repayments were $1564 a month in Toodyay, compared with $1907 in Perth.
Big rises in home loan costs – starting as early as this month – are predicted this year as Australia’s Reserve Bank lifts official interest rates to fight rising inflation, now running at 5.1 per cent nationally.
Australia’s official cash rate rose to 0.85 per cent last month and is predicted to hit 2.5 by the end of the year, adding hundreds of dollars to monthly loan repayments.
The overall picture painted by the 2021 census is that most Toodyay residents are still much older than their city cousins.
Last year’s Toodyay median age was 54 compared with 37 in Perth, and higher than Toodyay’s median age of 51 in 2016.
The census reported that about a third of all Toodyay residents were born overseas, with English-born residents the biggest component at just over 10 per cent, compared with Perth (8) and nationally (3.6).
A total of 136 shire residents (three per cent) identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, along with 42,023 in Perth (two per cent) and 813,000 nationally (3.2 per cent).
About 20 per cent of all Toodyay residents (823 people) did voluntary work through an organisation or group in the 12 months to August last year, compared with 15 per cent in Perth and 14 per cent nationally.
In health, the Census reported that 4.1 per cent of Toodyay residents (190 people) have cancer or are in remission, compared with 2.7 in Perth and 2.9 nationally.
However, only 0.3 per cent (16 people) have dementia – including Alzheimer’s Disease – compared with 0.7 per cent in Perth and the same figure nationally.
A total of 264 Toodyay residents (5.7 per cent) reported heart disease – including heart attack or angina – compared with 3.5 per cent in Perth and nationally.
Toodyay resident also fared worse in lung disease – including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema – with 126 cases (2.7 per cent) compared with 1.5 per cent in Perth and across Australia.
Mental health – including depression and anxiety – accounted for 438 cases (9.5 per cent) in Toodyay last August compared with 8.4 in Perth and 8.8 nationally.
About 470 Toodyay dwellings (26.7 per cent) were occupied by only one person, roughly matching Perth and nationally.
In religion, 2152 Toodyay residents (46.8 per cent) reported no religious affiliation – a big increase compared with 2016 when the non-religious total was 1536 (34.6 per cent).
Both major religions lost followers in Toodyay, with Anglicans dropping to 14.5 per cent (21 per cent in 2016), and Catholics 12 per cent (previously 16), reflecting similar trends in Perth and nationally.
Australia’s total population last August was 25.4 million people, of which 2.1 million lived in Perth and 4601 in Toodyay.