We Investigate What’s Better: Living In The City Or Trekking It From The ‘Burbs?


Millennial folks know better than most just how expensive renting can be. New research conducted by realestate.com.au found that almost half of Aussies aged between 18-39 are technically experiencing ‘rental stress‘.

For the uninitiated, the ABS defines ‘rental stress’ as the financial tension when 30% (or more) of your income goes towards rent. What’s interesting, though, is that 72% of us still believe our steep rent is fair, meaning we’ve basically just accepted that renting is expenno.

In fact, the same research found that, when finding a rental place, we put more importance on a property’s location than its price – but should we?

Is the whole ‘location, location, location’ thing as important as it’s cracked up to be, or should we consider living in slightly more affordable suburbs in the name of thriftiness?

Here two PEDESTRIAN.TV staffers, who live on opposite sides of town, weigh in on the matter. While they both agree on the ideal commute time, they also point out the pluses and minuses of suburban and city living.

Kassia – lives in the suburbs

My average commute time each day is… One and a half hours (each way!!) by bus.

I’d define the ‘ideal commute’ as… anything 30 minutes or under, ideally walking distance (in complete contradiction to what I’m currently doing).

I normally spend my commute… chilling out. On the way into the city, I’m usually trying to sleep more – I’ve even worked out the ideal seat for optimum sleep comfort. On the way home, though, it’s either listening to music or reading, depending on how tired I feel.

The pros of living further out are… solely that I’m saving a lot of money. I won’t pretend I’m not enjoying the cost efficiency, but that’s literally it.

The cons of living in the suburbs is that… being social and getting to work is harder. Also not enjoying the area you live in or owning a car is one huge con.

Do I think saving on rent is worth it for the commute? Ugh, this is hard. Every part of me wants to say ‘hell no’. BUT instead, I’m going to say it’s worth it for a limited time. I can’t be out here forever, it’s not worth it. But short term it’s a great saving boost.

Tash – lives in the city

My average commute time each day is… 25 minutes (each way) door-to-door.

I’d define the ‘ideal commute’ as… getting to and from work in under half an hour – that’s the sweet spot IMO. I’ve had it where I lived only 15 minutes away from my office and, as easy as the journey was, I found that living too close to home came with its downsides. The proximity of my house to work made it feel like I couldn’t quite switch off. So I like having a 25-minute trip each way because it gives me physical space from work, but also a bit of time to wind down on the way to and from the office.

I normally spend my commute… playing on my phone – catching up on the news, social media and sometimes listening to music.

The pros of living closer in are… that my suburb is a really cool part of town and where a lot of my mates go out on the weekend.

The cons of living near the city is that… there’s definitely a premium to living there. When I see how much rent I pay compared to my friends, who live just two or three suburbs out, there’s quite a big difference between what we get for the same money. Normally they pay $100 less and get equal to or nicer places than mine.

Do I think spending that bit more on rent is worth it for the commute? While I’m definitely paying a bit more to live where I do, I’ve never been tempted to move further out because I find my location so damn good. What I pay in rent, I often save on Ubers and transport getting home from events.

My housemates also play a big part in how happy I am with staying in my current place. I’ve heard so many housemate horror stories that I feel as though I’ve lucked out, and don’t want to risk losing a good share house dynamic for the sake of slightly cheaper rent. If I had a bad housemate dynamic though, that would probably make me reconsider the location element.

So there you have it, two city workers weighing in on the age old ‘location, location, location’ approach to property. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that if you’re working in the ‘burbs, your optimal renting location might change too.