29-Mar-2019 • Personal Finance

If Aussies had to choose between the two, 87% of Australian adults would choose owning a home over sending their children to private secondary school, according to a new study by ME.

The research by ME found owning a home and sending your children to private secondary school are common goals for most Australians: 91% currently own or would like to own a home, and if money wasn’t an issue, 58% of Australian adults would like to send their kids to private school.

However, ME Money expert Matthew Read said, “the enormous price tags both goals carry can make affording both out of reach for many so, one’s got to give, and for 87% of Australian adults, the house wins.”

ME surveyed 1,500 Australian adults to explore the trade-offs between home ownership and private education, the financial pressure associated with both and the sacrifices we’re prepared to make to reach these financial goals.

In terms of the affordability of private secondary schooling, of those surveyed 38% said it would be extremely difficult to send their children to private school, 50% moderately difficult and 12% not difficult at all.

Another key finding is that many Aussies could not send their children to school if they owned a home. Of those who said they’d like to send their children to private school, a massive 40% say owning a home will stop them from doing so.

And when it comes down to the crunch, only 17% can afford to both send their children to private school and own a home and the rest are left with the decision to favour one over the other.

“The survey also reveals we are willing to make some pretty big property and lifestyle sacrifices in an attempt to reach these financial goals,” said Read.

Although 45% would make no property owning sacrifices to send their children to private school, about a third (31%) said they’d sacrifice owning a larger home, 26% would sacrifice renovating their home, 19% would sacrifice living in their preferred suburb and 8% would sacrifice home ownership completely.

While 33% said they would make no lifestyle sacrifices to send their children to private school, the rest would make some pretty substantial sacrifices:

  • 40% would sacrifice eating out
  • 38% would sacrifice a new car
  • 36% would sacrifice entertainment
  • 33% would sacrifice holidays
  • 29% would sacrifice new appliances for the home
  • 27% would sacrifice clothes and shoes
  • 23% would sacrifice sports and leisure activities
  • 12% would sacrifice work-life balance

“Even after the choice about home ownership versus private school has been made, there’s a lot of ambivalence,” said Read.

Over a third (35%) are worried about whether they’ve made the right decision, while just over half (51%) don’t think the financial pressure of doing both is worth it.

“When considering why home ownership wins over private school for those who have to choose, the cultural pressure we feel to own a home and live out the Australian dream may be a contributing factor on top of cost,” said Read.

The survey revealed Aussies feel far more pressured to own a home (60%) than send their children to private school (32%).

And while a house can cost much more than private schooling, we’re more willing to see housing as value for money: 63% find the financial costs of owning a home unreasonable, in comparison to 82% finding the financial costs of private secondary schooling unreasonable.


Editor notes: ME surveyed 1,500 Australian adults who currently own, or plan to own property, and currently have or plan to have children.

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