MID North Coast families are choosing to move away from the region after the price hikes in coastal rental properties has made it financially difficult for them to stay.
The price for a regional rental property has soared by 12.5 per cent in the 12 months to September, the largest annual increase on record, according to AAP.
According to data firm CoreLogic, the median dwelling weekly rental price on the Mid North Coast is $476 - which represents an increase of more than 15 per cent in the last 12 months.
Brittany and Aidan Daly moved into a three bedroom and two bathroom rental in Port Macquarie in 2018.
Since then they've been hoping to upgrade to a four bedroom home, given they now have two children Isabella and Mathew.
However the couple has found it's been too difficult to find a property which is priced appropriately, given they are a sole income family.
"The prices were just absolutely crazy," Mrs Daly said.
"Some of the properties we saw were asking for $600 or more rent per week."
The family is moving to Narrabri in December, where Mr Daly has accepted a paid role in the NSW Rural Fire Service.
Mrs Daly said she is excited about the move and their Narrabri rental property ticks all their boxes for affordability and additional space.
Another resident, Rob Coburn is also concerned about the price hikes after his weekly rent rose by $200 over the past 12 months.
He questioned what will happen to all the blue collar workers once they can no longer afford to live in the town.
Economic concerns over the rental price hikes have been echoed by Percival Property principal Michael Percival and Business NSW regional manager Kellon Beard.
Mr Beard said the Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce is concerned about the rental hike impact on workforce, given there is already a shortage of skilled workers in the region.
He's is aware some business owners are buying their employees accommodation, in an effort to keep them in the area.
Mr Beard is calling on all levels of government to work together in an effort to release more land in the region.
"In the past we've seen the trend of people moving from here to Sydney but we're seeing that's just not happening now," Mr Beard said.
"The market down there is overheated as well."
Mr Percival described the issue as "heartbreaking" for a lot of people who have lived in the Port Macquarie-Hastings for a long time.
Mr Percival has worked in property management for over two decades.
He said the rental market change was being driven by city residents moving to regional locations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Percival has heard from a lot of people who have had to make the tough decision to either move further away, or move in with more people to alleviate the financial strain.
He's concerned about the blue collar workers who "are being priced out".
"These are our necessary workers," he said.
Mr Percival said real estate agents have been blamed for the rental hikes when it's nothing to do with them.
Agents are required to communicate with owners of properties to let them know about changes in the rental market and then talk to tenants if the owners decide to increase rents.
"We try to be humane about it and call people if their rents go up," he said.
Mr Percival said in the future employers may be forced to drive up salaries, in an effort to attract staff to the area amid the rising living costs.
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