Ballina and Byron Shires are two of the top three least affordable areas in regional NSW to live, according to a new report.

The BankWest Key Worker Housing Affordability Report released this week based on ‘key workers’ salaries found Byron Bay the most expensive place to live in regional NSW, with Kiama second, Ballina third and Tweed fourth..

The study analysed house prices in 540 Australian Local Government Areas and cross-referenced them against wages and salary data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Government Workplace Authority.

The report used a median house price in Byron Shire of $501,500.

The median house price in Ballina Shire was $435,000, while in Tweed Shire it was $433,500.

The report based its figures on average salaries for teachers, nurses, police officers, ambulance officers and fire-fighters.

Average salaries used in the study were: nurses $48,661; teachers $54,835; police officers $65,913; fire-fighters $55,783; and ambulance officers $61,893.

An area was classified as unaffordable if median house prices are more than five times a key worker’s annual earnings.

The report said: “Key workers are an essential part of the make-up of any community.

“By the nature of their occupations, key workers need to live close to their workplaces.

“The continued rise in house prices across Australia means that it is now not possible for many key workers to buy a house near their workplace or, in many capital cities, even climb onto the housing ladder at all.

“This has serious implications for policy makers and the wider community.

“Metropolitan areas with high house prices will find it harder to attract key workers.

“Some regional areas, which in the past have been able to attract key workers because of their affordable housing, may not be able to do so in the future.

Key findings:

  • Nurses face the most affordability difficulties
  • Police officers are the best placed key workers
  • Less than 10% of areas are affordable for fire-fighters and teachers
  • Ambulance officers are priced out of 90% of LGAs in capital cities
  • Mosman ($2,080,500) in Sydney is the least affordable LGA in Australia for key workers, with a median house price to earnings ratio of 32.0 times for a police officer in 2007.
  • Playford ($193,000) in Adelaide is the most affordable capital city LGA for key workers with a house price to earnings ratio of 3.9 times for a fire fighter in 2007.