Prepare to be bitten, and not just by mosquitoes

It took me a little while to get used to the idea of ​​a vacation from my loving husband. Sea. Sand. More sea. too much sand And renting a beachside house seemed like carrying your normal daily responsibilities 100 miles away but without a dishwasher. No, thanks. You.

By the coast?  By the coast?  Australian beach vacations are now a $30,000 proposition.

By the coast? By the coast? Australian beach vacations are now a $30,000 proposition.Credit:matt davidson

Then I got used to it. A Hills hoist to hang sand towels on. An outside dunny. A terrace during the rain. That was the bare minimum after a rainy camping vacation at Pebbly Beach, where people in the store next door kept yelling at her two-year-old not to eat kangaroo poop.

But it seems to me that we might have to re-imagine what summer vacations are like in Australia. In June, I booked a place in Marrickville-by-the-sea (aka Currarong) for 10 days, big enough to house the most important people in my life: my grandchildren. It costs more than 10 percent of the average annual family income in New South Wales.

I went looking for a moment ago to help a friend who also wants to take her whole family. Much closer to Christmas and much closer to 25 percent of annual household income. Yeah, $30,000 for a beach vacation in January. When I looked in June, there were maybe 15 houses. Now only one. Before we could go at Easter and at Christmas, if we had a tight budget. That would be unattainable for most young families these days.

You can find smaller places, fewer bathrooms, no dishwashers, for much less. But as soon as you click on the beachside areas, no matter the size of the house, you get this alarming message: “More people than usual are looking for these dates, so now is a good time to book.”

In some areas of NSW, Byron for example, short-term rentals are well below pre-pandemic levels, so it’s no wonder it’s hard to find something, and the long-term rental market is non-existent. Can anyone tell me what all those negative gears are doing except raising rents and evicting long-term renters who don’t want to spend an extra 20 percent?

Fixing Australia long-term rentals is more of a priority, but there’s something dreamy about summer vacations. CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless squashed those dreams. He says the kind of beach holidays my children had, in houses with lots of bedrooms and spare mattresses and at least two bathrooms, are now out of reach for most Australian families.

He lives in Noosa and sees summer rents skyrocketing where he is. When the availability of long-term rentals is less than 1 percent, the short-term rental market suffers. He suggests that he start looking inland, though he promptly tells me that his family didn’t enjoy their own inland vacation. I thought maybe I’d succumbed to SouthCoastMania, but even the Central Coast is bad.

Stuart Sinclair, director of Ray White Tea Gardens Hawks Nest, said the short-term vacation home market has been very busy. The agency uses pre-COVID November 2019 as a benchmark: 180 bookings at 110 short-term properties. Now there are 400 reservations at the same properties and the cost is 10 percent higher than it was three years ago.

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