Housing – A Serious Hurdle for Regional Employers

Availability of affordable accommodation in regions across Australia is one of the biggest barriers to attracting workers into jobs in regional Australia. The situation is no different in this region, especially in the Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island.

Shortages in affordable housing and accommodation is impacting on the capacity of the region to attract workers to relocate to the region for jobs. Richard and Oliver from the RDA’s Workforce Team have had many conversations with employers who have multiple vacancies they cannot fill because there is a shortage of affordable accommodation in the region.

Current vacancy rates are at an all-time low across the regions and in some towns there are no rental properties available. Data sourced from in the month of June 2021 shows there were just 24 rental properties listed across Kangaroo Island, Yankalilla, Victor Harbor and Alexandria Councils combined, a reduction from 29 in May.  Regular posts are appearing on social media sites in the Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island from people seeking rental accommodation.

Council AreaMayJune
Victor Harbor107
Kangaroo Island24
Mount Barker & Adelaide Hills3741

The shortage of affordable accommodation has been magnified by the Covid 19 pandemic resulting in former owner/investors choosing to relocate permanently to the region and thereby reducing available rental accommodation. Competition amongst purchasers has also resulted in an upward spike in the cost of property. Recent statistics provided by Core Logic have listed regional South Australia dwelling values increasing by 13.2% in the last 12 months to April 2021.

The housing shortage is a complex issue due to the numerous factors contributing to the problem. They include:

  • Lower housing stocks due to:
    • Significant shift of rental housing stock to holiday accommodation, in a large part driven by the success of the Airbnb model.
    • Poor investment propositions including the cost of house construction in some regions exceeding finished property values.
    • Loss of housing stocks due to bushfires.
    • The current real estate market is delivering fast sales which means homes aren’t being rented while on market.
  • Higher demand for housing via:
    • Population growth which is relatively high across this region compared to the state.
    • Decreasing average household size (number of occupants).
    • Migration of people from cities to regions during the COVID crisis.
    • People returning from overseas and moving into their own rental properties.
    • Increased incomes and wealth have generated demand for second (holiday) homes.

At the 2021 Regional Development South Australia Conference (Growing our Workforce) held in Hahndorf the subject of affordable accommodation in regions was a key topic of discussion. Presenters from across Australia spoke of the challenges and potential models to address the issue and it is clear that solutions are long term propositions.

In June 2021 Regional Development South Australia finalised a comprehensive report into the issues that are inhibiting an available and skilled workforce in regional South Australia. The number one recommendation from the report was to increase housing supply in regional South Australia. A copy of the summary and all the recommendations can be found here:

The lack of available, affordable and quality housing is one of the biggest inhibitors to attracting an available and skilled workforce.  This has serious implications for regional development, growth and liveability. RDA Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island is currently undertaking a review of factors impacting housing supply on Kangaroo Island. As part of the project, we will work with stakeholders to develop a housing project in Kingscote. To keep up to date on RDA’s housing work, subscribe to our newsletter at: