The shortage of teachers in some parts of Australia could worsen as they continue be priced out of housing near their schools.

A study from the Australian Educational Researcher found that more than 90% of teaching positions across New South Wales — equivalent to 50,000 full-time roles — are located in LGAs where housing is unaffordable relative to the teacher’s salary.

The situation is worse for new teachers — around 675 schools that have 23,000 full-time teaching positions are in areas where the median rent for a one-bedroom is unsustainable on a graduate teacher’s salary.

Some of the most unaffordable LGAs for teachers are Bayside, Canada Bay, Sydney, and Waverley.

UNSW Professor Scott Eacott authored the study and said that affordability issues persist even for experienced educators at the top of the pay scale.

“Fundamentally, there’s been an increasing gap between salary and the costs of housing that the standard pay rise isn’t covering, and it’s pushing teachers further away from their workplaces or out of the profession entirely,” he said.

“The issue is not just limited to teachers, but all essential workers who are increasingly finding it difficult to find affordable places to live within a reasonable distance of their workplace.”

A complex crisis for teachers

Mr Eacott said housing affordability is often understated and overlooked when dealing with the teacher shortage crisis, which also involves issues on increasing workloads, poor working conditions, and stagnant pay.

“The teacher shortage is complex, and there are many factors why we lose teachers, especially in the first five years,” he said.

For many teachers, choosing between spending a significant amount of their salary to live near their school or endure a long and grinding daily commute is a struggle.

“Commutes of more than an hour would not be uncommon, which is a lot of productive time lost for teachers, not to mention all the hidden costs of tolls and parking,” Mr Eacott said.

In New South Wales, around 13,000 more teachers will be needed in the next decade to meet student demand. This, however, could worsen if teachers are not able to be given an opportunity to live locally.

“The school system is struggling to find enough teachers as it is — if teachers can’t afford to live near or within reasonable commuting distance of their schools, we can only expect those shortfalls to continue to grow,” Mr Eacott said.

Looking for a solution for teachers

Mr Eacott said while more investment from superannuation funds in essential worker housing developments is welcome, it would not be enough to address the issue.

“The simple answer is we do need to be paying teachers more, but that may not necessarily solve supply problems,” he said.

“For example, it is just incredibly difficult right now for teachers to find a place to rent given record low vacancy rates.”

A short-term solution could be salary loading for teachers in severely unaffordable LGAs.

“An allowance for those teaching in LGAs where housing is out of reach would be a targeted and tailored first intervention,” Mr Eacott said.

In the long-term, Mr Eacott said teachers and other essential workers should be considered more in infrastructure planning when developing future cities.

“It is important that we’re not confining teachers to just teacher apartments but creating pathways to home ownership,” he said.

“We rely so much on our teachers, so it’s only fair we take steps towards providing them and other essential workers with affordable and secure housing options.”

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Important Information and Comparison Rate Warning

Base criteria of: a $400,000 loan amount, variable, fixed, principal and interest (P&I) home loans with an LVR (loan-to-value) ratio of at least 80%. However, the ‘Compare Home Loans’ table allows for calculations to be made on variables as selected and input by the user. Some products will be marked as promoted, featured or sponsored and may appear prominently in the tables regardless of their attributes. All products will list the LVR with the product and rate which are clearly published on the product provider’s website. Monthly repayments, once the base criteria are altered by the user, will be based on the selected products’ advertised rates and determined by the loan amount, repayment type, loan term and LVR as input by the user/you. *The Comparison rate is based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. Warning: this comparison rate is true only for this example and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate. Rates correct as of .


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