Half of the top 20 suburbs in Australia that are under mortgage stress can be found in Victoria, according to a new report from the Grattan Institute, a public policy think tank.

The report’s data, taken from the 2011 and 2016 censuses, found that Wollert, situated 27km north of Melbourne’s CBD, has the highest percentage of houses under mortgage stress in the country (23%).

The Melbourne suburb of Roxburgh Park, takes second place at 20.9%.

Mortgage stress is defined as any household that allocates more than 30% or more of its income to loan repayments.

“Mortgage stress is particularly acute on the suburban fringes of our major cities, especially Victoria,” said Brendan Coates, a fellow at the Grattan Institute. “Places like Roxburgh Park in the north, Cranbourne West, Burnside Heights and so on, have quite significant mortgage stress.”

Across the nation, many households could find themselves in trouble if the economy shifts even slightly. “Our research suggests that if interest rates rose just 2 per cent from where they are now, the mortgage burden on the average house would be higher than what it was in 1989, when we saw 17 per cent interest rates,” Coates said.

This leaves residents living in the top 20 stressed suburbs in a highly vulnerable position, as many have recently purchased homes in areas far removed from the CBDs.

“If something does happen, it is hard. You are spending more time commuting and your employment may be less secure because if you lose your job, there may not be as many jobs around where you are,” Coates said.