Seven things I hate about Sydney

Here are the seven things I hate about Sydney, Australia. I have lived in this city for 15 years and in many ways I love this city, but there are some things that make absolutely no sense in this city’s infrastructure and housing areas.

  1. The lack of effective public transport, there could be much better public transport routes built, if money was invested in light rail* as opposed to building more highways. We used to have light rail out to Parramatta, but what did we do? Rip it all out to make room for cars on the highway, the most stupid idea ever. I have been telling this to anyone would listen over the past decade.

*Recently in the past 2 years there have been positive moves in this area, with the building of new light rail in the Eastern Suburbs and Inner West, however in my opinion there hasn’t been enough emphasis on this kind of infrastructure and roads are still a major part of infrastructure policy.

  1. Linked to this is the amount of cars on our roads, seeing cars with one commuter within in the mornings in every single car clogging up the roads across Sydney is not uncommon. Yet people in this city need cars, because of the lack of public transport to many areas, the unwillingness by many to use public transport, and finally the sprawl of the suburbs being so large that it’s impractical to use bicycles.
  1. The lack of high density living, not only in areas within 8 km of the city, but the fact that the suburbs sprawl on forever due to land sizes being too large. Most of the time the land has been wasted and goes unused. The mistakes that were made with housing in this city are staggering and just drive me mad. There are too many parking spaces that waste perfectly good land that could be used for housing. There are far too many single story homes on large blocks even in the inner city (i.e. the Inner West, Lower North Shore), if homes are higher their footprint can be smaller and you can fit more people into the area (think of the Western European cities).
  1. The way speculation has driven up the housing market in the past ~15 years especially, at ridiculous amounts, if your house price is increasing by $100,000 a year [2-4], there is a serious problem with the market, only everyone was too blinded by greed to see it until it was too late. For example, in the year from January-December 2000, house prices in Sydney rose by 5.9 % [1], the next year in 2001, house prices skyrocketed 17.2 % [2]. In 2002, house prices in Sydney rose 22.2% [3]. There were a few years of weak growth and falls due to the financial crisis, however the market has picked up, going forward to 2013-15, house prices rose approximately  7 – 11 % each year [4]. Even now, many people refuse to admit or do not realize how inflated housing prices have become, and that this will cause massive social issues in the future if the demand is not met. There are fears of increasing supply (over 100,000 new homes are required in Sydney [5]), because a fast increase in supply could cause a market crash. Although a crash in prices might seem good for new home buyers, it would devastate current homeowners, especially those with large mortgages (and Australians currently have a staggeringly high level of person debt), and those who have invested in housing for their retirement plans. It’s difficult to see an easy way out of this conundrum, with out the implementation of very different social housing policies.
  1. The lack of affordable rentals especially for young people who don’t yet have the salary to buy their own place, such as university students. Rental accommodation around the major universities is ridiculously out of price range for the average student. Basically unless you have a full time job, a well-paid part time job, or wealthy parents your rental options are very limited.
  1. More and more people are becoming homeless in our city partially because of poor housing affordability.
  1. The lack of safe cycling routes, i.e. more widespread dedicated cycling lanes would make it safe for more people in the inner city to commute by bike. Increasing cycling over the use of automobiles would decrease traffic congestion, not to mention reduce carbon emissions.

[1] 6416.0 – House Price Indexes: Eight Capital Cities. Australian Bureau of Statistics. URL: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6416.0Dec%202000?OpenDocument

[2] 6416.0 – House Price Indexes: Eight Capital Cities. Australian Bureau of Statistics. URL: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6416.0Dec%202001?OpenDocument

[3] 6416.0 – House Price Indexes: Eight Capital Cities. Australian Bureau of Statistics. URL: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6416.0Dec%202002?OpenDocument

[4]  Australian Bureau of Statistics. URL: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6416.0Dec%202015?OpenDocument

[5] http://www.smh.com.au/business/nsw-housing-shortage-at-unprecedented-level-20160325-gnr37f.html

 

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