It’s a slice of paradise, but it’s becoming increasingly dearer to live there — that’s the downside for long-time Byron Bay residents.

In a press release on the Byron Shire Council website, the council says: “Everyone in the Byron Shire seems to have a story about struggling to find affordable housing in the area.

“Reg Hurley, a shop owner in Byron Bay, says he’s heard many similar stories from locals in his shop over the last 10 years.”

Mr Hurley says: “The prices have gone up out of proportion with what normal people can pay.

“Many lower-income workers, singles and parents with children who lived here for many years have had to move away – not because they want to but because they can’t afford the rent anymore.” 

Byron Shire Council said: “In five years, rental and purchase prices in the Byron Shire have increased 18% compared to around 5% for NSW.

“As a result, many low and moderate income workers cannot afford to live near their jobs and many long-term residents have essentially been ‘priced out’ of our community.

“Many older people on a fixed income are seeing costs increase at a rate much faster than their pensions.” 

Deirdre Dowsett from the Northern Rivers Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service said: “Many people who have for years been able to afford their rent or site fees are finding it more and more difficult.”

The council says there are over 1300 low to moderate-income renting households in the Byron Shire who are in ‘housing stress’ – which means they spend more than 30% of their weekly income on housing costs likely forcing them to cut back on food, clothing, health or other essential expenses.

Council’s Director of Planning, Development and Environment Services, Ray Darney, said: “The truth is, anyone living in Byron Shire could need affordable housing at some point, such as a young adult who wants to stay in the area, an ageing relative who needs to move closer to family, or someone going through unexpected changes due to accident, illness or divorce.

“Byron Shire Council has been studying this problem for the last six months and has proposed a range of new and innovative strategies to build some new affordable rental housing in the community and hopefully bring some relief.”

The Draft Affordable Housing Strategy will be on public exhibition from until November 18.

There will be community information stands and workshops held between October 20 to 24.

For dates and times of these community events check the council’s website www.byron.nsw.gov.au