For most first home buyers in Australia these days, it is a choice between struggling now or in retirement. And many of them are choosing to struggle now, as the average first home buyer’s home loan has been on the increase in the past years. In fact, according to the latest Adelaide Bank/Real Estate Institute of Australia housing affordability report, those who bought a house this year instead of last year had to borrow and extra $175 per week just to keep up with their repayments.

But every first home buyer in each capital city has a different way of paying off their loans. For example, in Melbourne, where the median price is one of the highest in the country, Helen Marsh and partner Matt Archer had to do a balancing act when it comes to their cash flow. They are repaying an interest-only mortgage over 30 years because this was the only way they can afford to buy a home. They are also funneling savings into an offset account in order to reduce the amount of loan they need to pay interest on.

Lifestyle change is also a huge part of the deal. Even in Perth, where the median house price is considered one of the lowest in the territory, borrowers have to adjust the way they live, especially in the face of reduced income. Such is the case for couple Jaime Buller and Jasmine Rhodes, who is having a baby later this year.

“If either of us wanted to have a change of career or do something different or just take a break from our respective careers, we wouldn’t really be able to take much of a pay cut—or at all,” Rhodes said.

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