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The other cost of renting...


Today I want to talk to you about an aspect of renting that I never hear addressed in the media.

This isn't a complaint about the cost of renting or the availability of rentals in areas that offer decent amenities. This is about the cost of having to up and move all the time.

It seems, at the moment, that on any suburban street you drive along in Melbourne, there is some house or other being torn down and replaced with new houses, town houses, or apartment buildings. It's nice the shabby old houses are being replaced by new, modern abodes, however, the stories behind these rebuilds are often not so nice.

Often those stories involve families having to pack up their homes, their kids rooms, their memories, and find somewhere new to live. This often leads to kids having to change kindergarten or school. Kids and their families having to leave their friends and community behind. The parents search for somewhere new to live - usually somewhere more expensive for the same amount of room, or if they can't afford more expensive, then something smaller or further away from shops and transport.

And usually, the following year, or the year after that, the landlord will make the financially beneficial decision to sell, or rebuild. The family will have to repeat the process.

The instability and uncertainty is wearing. Most people are aware of these costs.

But the thing that is not spoken about is the monetary cost to renters of this constant moving. Before a renter can retrieve the bond from their previous rental, they must have packed up and left the rental so the landlord can make sure everything is in reasonable order. This means there is no bond to help with costs, and the bond from the first place cannot be used to pay the bond (or part thereof) for the next place. This has to come out of the pocket of the renter.

As well as this, moving is expensive. It can cost thousands of dollars to move house. Dave and I once moved twice in a year and it cost us $10 000 to do so. We didn't use a white glove service (where you pay someone else to come pack up your home), and we didn't hire a cleaner to make sure we left the property spick and span. We did that work ourselves. We hired reasonable movers - we didn't have a car a the time.

$10 000, let that sink in...

Our rent only came to $15 000 per annum at the time. Those were out of pocket costs (actually we had to ask Dave's parents to loan us the money and while we were able to repay the bond once we got that back, we were never able to repay the rest).

If families have to move once a year at $5 000 each move, then in 25 years of renting, they'll have spent $110 000 on moving cost alone!

That is a horrible thought.

Something must be done to protect renters from these costs. Somehow, renters security needs better protection!

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