29 Jun 2018

It is cheaper to buy than rent in this south east Queensland island paradise

IT IS by the water, you can easily commute to Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and with family homes selling for around 200 grand it is one of the cheapest places in Brisbane.

In some cases the weekly repayment to buy a home is cheaper than weekly rents.

But there is a catch, you can only get there by ferry.

Things are changing on Russell Island with house sales increasing, and a population that is booming.

Well, booming by Russell Island standards.

The population of the small 8km long island off Redland Bay has jumped to 2836 in 2016 from just 1779 residents in 2006.

House sales are increasing, with 136 house sales in the 12 months leading up to March 2018 compared to just 56 sales in the 12 months leading to March 2012.

New homes are being added all the time, with 14 homes being built in the last 12 months and 85 currently under construction according to Redland City Council.

According to CoreLogic data from March, the median sales price is $190,000, which is actually 2.6 per cent lower than 10 years ago.

Currently the median rent is $250 a week for a home, and with a $190,000 home having estimated repayments of about $710 a month, buying can be the cheapest option.

Jeremy Staples, 36, is just one of the new arrivals that ditched Brisbane living when he heard about how cheap land was selling for on the island.

“I was renting in Kangaroo Point, and I realised I had spent $50,000 to $60,000 on a shoebox that I didn’t even own,” Mr Staples said.

He spent $16,000 on an empty 650sq m block, with the goal of building his own house, and to never pay rent again.

“It is near a nature reserve so I’m never going to have neighbours,” he said.

As a freelance worker in the arts sector with an unstable income, he never imagined he would be able to buy his own property when he lived in Brisbane.

Living on the island does have its own sacrifices, and as well as the ferry commute (about 15 minutes each way from Redlands) he has two cars so that he can drive around the island as well as mainland.

But with cafes, restaurants, services and even a supermarket on the island, he found the occasional frustration well worth it for the affordable living.

Another recent arrival, Nicole Edwards, bought a home on the island for $220,000 two years ago with her husband when they were lured from Canberra by the cheap prices.

“In Canberra we were looking at $400,000 just for a flat.”

Another downside was the attitude people on the mainland had towards people that live on the island.

She said that one downside to island living was mainlanders’ negative attitude to people living on the island.

After she had trouble finding a job on the mainland, she found that prospective employers were more positive when she took any reference to living on Russell Island off her CV.

LJ Hooker Bay Islands real estate agent Alistair Taylor said this attitude was common, and was a hang-up from the dodgy land dealings from decades past when small allotments were sold to investors that expected to earn quick returns.

“People always say ‘that place is terrible’ then I ask ‘well have you actually been to Russell Island?’ and they say no,” Mr Taylor said.

Aged 31, he is one of the younger residents on the island, which in 2016 had a median age of 55 - 18 years higher than the national median.

“The vast majority of people on the island are retirees,” he said.

A Sydneysider, he moved to the island five year ago when he got tired of paying $500 a week in rent for flat.

“My Mum told me about Russell Island and how you can still buy blocks of land for 15 grand, and I thought there had to be something wrong with the place,” Mr Taylor said.

He had noticed a change in demographics in the last few years, as more and more people around his age ditch the mainland for the island.

While the laid back quality of life was a selling point, the vast majority of people his age were moving for one reason - good quality homes that are cheaper to buy than rent.

“With the difference between the island now and five years ago it is like comparing two different places” he said.

Even though it lacked a bridge to the mainland, islanders do get cheap car rego for cars that are used exclusively on the island, and now with the ferry system connected to the GoCard network travel was more affordable.

Despite the population increase, house prices have not moved much in the last decade.

He has predicted a price increase, like many people have before, as more and more people move to the island.

“All these things happen with population growth,” he said.

He pointed to a small island 32kms north of Sydney’s CBD called Scotland Island where the median house sale price is $862,500 as an example of why he thought Russell Island was undervalued.

“And Scotland Island is even more secluded,” he said.

SOURCE ; https://www.news.com.au/finance/real-estate/brisbane-qld/it-is-cheaper-to-buy-than-rent-in-this-south-east-queensland-island-paradise/news-story/c71e0f6d43670c9380ddff61141b08d0

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