2020. What a year. In Australia, we kicked it off with some of the worst bushfires on record, devastating rural communities and local business. No sooner had we got back on our feet than the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.
Ask most people what the highlights have been and you’ll get a blank stare. But among all the chaos and unprecedented events, there have been several bright spots. And with news of a reliable vaccine on the horizon, 2021 is set to be even better.
Here’s what happened in 2020.
We can’t begin to discuss 2020 without acknowledging the event that has dominated the entire year. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every country in the world, done immeasurable damage to world economies and claimed over 1.5 million lives so far.
Even in Australia, where the outbreak has been very well contained, we’ve had 908 deaths. Countless others have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced. Even those who have been able to keep their jobs and houses have had to juggle home schooling or deal with the loneliness of not being able to see family and friends.
Among all that upheaval has been a very real surge in resilience. Australians have dug deep and discovered different ways to do things. Jokes about sourdough starters point to a very real phenomenon: when we were confined to our houses, we found new ways to enjoy living in them.
In fact, house buying patterns reflect this. There has been a surge in people looking for home offices, or homes with multiple living spaces. Kitchens have become even more important than usual.
The property market
The major capitals took a dip during the early months of lockdown, thanks to their exposure to international tourism and investment. While they’ve already regained some lost ground, some investors will be waiting a while to see their profits return.
Airbnb owners on the Gold Coast and other tourism-heavy regions have also seen takings drop this year.
The regions have been the big winner in 2020. With so many people working from home, there is less reason to live in a city than ever before. People want more space, room for a home office, and a garden of their own. Country properties offer all of this and more, for far less money than their city counterparts.
The smaller cities, like Adelaide and Perth, have also seen property prices remain steady. Most of the buyer market is domestic, and rock-bottom interest rates have created the ideal environment to acquire property.
One huge winner is first home buyers. The RBA’s rate cut has made buying a home more affordable than ever before. Add to that Federal tax cuts which have benefited middle income earners and returned more money to their pay packet. Lastly, some would-be buyers have taken advantage of the ability to withdraw a chunk of superannuation to use it towards a home deposit.
Looking towards 2021
As this long hard year draws to a close, there are plenty of signs that 2021 will be better.
As of December, the internal borders are down almost everywhere. Families are reuniting for Christmas after a long hard year apart.
Tourism operators are also feeling the boost. Regional travel is allowable across the country, and several states have offered travel vouchers towards the cost of a holiday. Many popular holiday destinations are already booked out, as people rush to spend money earmarked for overseas trips.
Vaccines are hitting the news daily at the moment, with several encouraging candidates about to go into mass production. Australia has already secured enough doses of both market leaders to vaccinate the entire population if people so choose. It might take the rest of the world a little while to catch up, but by the end of next year life just might be back to normal.
At the end of the day, Australia is still the lucky country. Our economy took a hit thanks to COVID-19, but has recovered better than most other countries in the world. Life is almost back to normal. The predicted plunge in property prices not only didn’t happen, it went the other way: prices are up around the country, with particularly great results in our regions.
Through it all, we’ve proven once again, when we come together, we can handle anything.
We’ve worn masks to protect the vulnerable. Endured lockdowns to help the country as a whole. Made small sacrifices to avoid a larger disaster. And we end 2020 stronger than ever before.
Here’s to a better 2021, may you all have a safe and wonderful Christmas and New Year shared with loved ones.