Millennials Share How They Really Bought Their First Homes

With house price growth far outweighing increases to wages over the past 40 years, the median age of first-home ownership in Australia has risen to 32 years of age, compared to 25 in the 1970s.

We asked four young home owners exactly how they managed to buy a property in the current market.

Luke and Sarah*

Age first property purchased: 31 and 28
Property location: Outer south-eastern suburbs Melbourne, Vic
Property price: $465,000

Couple Luke and Sarah bought a townhouse together in 2015. At the time, their annual salaries were $50,000 (editor) and $45,000 (graphic designer).

“Short of a lottery win there’s no way we will ever afford to live in the areas we grew up in, and in the kinds of homes we were brought up in.”

Luke first moved out of home when he was 27 and Sarah at 22, but returned home after two years.

While neither Luke or Sarah received a set monetary contribution from family towards their property, they say that in some ways, they are still financially supported by them today.

“We didn’t/don’t go out very much, nor do we drink. We tend not to spend money on many day-to-day luxuries,” Luke says.

The couple are currently living on a single income as Sarah’s job was recently made redundant, and both still have outstanding HECS debt.

“We still have to keep an eye on the money situation (especially now that we are a single-income household), though we have been able to travel overseas regularly, mainly due to our lifestyle savings.”

Charlotte and Sam*

Age first property purchased: Both 27
Property location: Lalor, Vic
Property price: $500,000

Secondary teacher Charlotte and physiotherapist Sam were earning a combined salary of around $150,000 when buying their first property together in 2017.

Sam had been living out of home since the age of 23 and Charlotte, 24.

“When we were living out of home we were completely independent, however, in order to meet our goal amount for a deposit, we ended up moving back into my parents’ house for 12 months,” Charlotte says.

“During that time we paid for our own groceries, but my parents didn’t charge us rent or expect us to contribute to bills. We made up for this in cooking regularly and domestic chores.”

The couple did not receive any other help towards financing their deposit such as a previous inheritance, a guarantor, or money from family, nor did their parents pay for their university courses.

“Short of a lottery win … there is no way Sam and I will ever afford to live in the areas we grew up in, and in the kinds of homes we were brought up in,” Charlotte says.


Age first property purchased: 23
Property location: Macgregor, ACT
Property price: $373,000

Sophie bought her first property with a former partner in 2014.

She had been saving for three years at the time and was working as a digital producer on an annual salary of $60,000.

Prior to buying, Sophie rented at market rate in various Canberra properties and was financially independent by age 20, with the exception of some parental assistance towards paying for university.

Sophie paid the deposit on her own, while her partner at the time contributed to mortgage payments.

“I am probably one of the few at work who rarely buys coffee or lunch out. I’ve also worked two to three jobs over the years, even after buying my house, so that I didn’t have to give up the lifestyle I like,” she says.

“I bought in area I could afford, which is quite a way away by Canberra standards…I researched and found it would be most suitable.”

The property is now rented out and the mortgage repayments are mostly covered by the tenants.

Read more about working up to buying your first home in our life guide to the property market.

*Names have been changed for privacy.

Amelia Barnes is a freelance writer based in Melbourne. She is a regular contributor to Domain and the co-founding editor of Rented Space – a website showcasing creatively-styled rental properties.

Main image: Please Like Me / Josh and John Productions

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