Social costs of Western Australia's mining boom

Foreign investment and an influx of nearly 1,000 migrants per week to Western Australia have driven up property prices and rent so high that they threaten local participation in each market.

Western Australia is the country's fastest growing economic area as a result of a long-running mining boom.

This has largely been good news for the region, but not for locals renting or looking to buy a home.

Data from Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board show that the number of properties purchased from overseas jumped up from 368 to 877 during 2011-2012. Foreign buyers looking for assets in politically stable and economically strong jurisdictions have gravitated towards Australia's west coast.

These foreign buyers – one in ten of whom are from China – are often willing to pay a premium for the investment stability, which puts upward pressure on prices.

In Western Australia's rental market, low income individuals are increasingly at risk of homelessness, as workers from other parts of Australia and from abroad have flocked to the region.

The median weekly rent in Perth is roughly $500 per week – prohibitive for a poorly paid worker. In boom towns like Port Hedland, the median weekly rent for a house sits closer to $2,000 per week.


Sources: ABC News; Australian Foreign Investment Review Board; Perth Now