Call it the real estate diet. Aussies are revealing there is an upside to the country’s expensive home prices: the extreme budgeting required to buy property is helping them lead healthier lives.
Many buyers are reporting they quit alcohol, lost weight or made other improvements to their lifestyle while scrimping together a home deposit, often with the original goal of saving money faster.
First homebuyer Francis Floresca, 25, said he lost nearly 30kg on his path to buying an apartment in The Pavillions in Sydney Olympic Park after realising he could save money faster by adjusting his diet.
The high school English teacher said he had been eating himself out of house and home by tucking into kebabs and doughnuts every afternoon and his weight ballooned.
“I was wasting $10,000 a year on junk food and I weighed 116kg,” he said, adding that having a savings goal gave him the discipline needed to finally get himself into shape.
“I started to eat more at home and pack lunch once I realised how much I was spending eating out … I don’t think I would have saved fast enough without doing that,” Mr Floresca said.
By purchasing his one-bedroom unit off-the-plan through Mirvac’s Right Start program, Mr Floresca said he was also helped by having two savings goals.
The first was putting together a 5 per cent deposit upon purchase and the second was another 5 per cent when the property was built, which he said kept him from returning to bad eating habits.
“I feel so much better now. I was having trouble breathing and things feel so much easier,” Mr Floresca said.
Jason Rae, 32, said he went cold turkey on drinking over the six months before he purchased his Macquarie Park home last year to help save faster after realising it was his biggest expense. Now he seldom drinks.
“I was going out too much and it gets expensive,” he said. “Once you break the pattern it gets easier. I still enjoy a beer, but I don’t go out as much any more.”
Smartline mortgage expert Samantha Cranny said reducing or cutting out alcohol was becoming an increasingly popular way for home buyers to save faster.
She added that current buyers had more incentive to shape up than in years passed because banks were going through their expenditure with a fine tooth comb.
“We’ve seen lenders reject loan applications because they saw too many charges from pubs or bottle shops. When you pay by card, banks know exactly how much you spend on everything.”
Finder.com.au money expert Bessie Hassan said good financial decisions tended to have a knock-on effect for other habits.
“Step one in saving for a deposit usually involves a review of all your outgoings — which may motivate some to make better choices for their health and wealth, alike,” Ms Hassan said.
“If you put good plans in place for both your health and wealth — and stick to them — you can dramatically improve your personal situation.”