A shortage of rental properties in South Australia has caused people from across the state to seek accommodation wherever they can find it, even if it is far from home. 

Key points:

  • A rental shortage in both regional SA and Adelaide has made short-term accommodation hard to find
  • Regional towns often don’t have enough homes to accommodate prospective workers looking to move
  • Shelter SA says governments need to do more to help ease the shortage

Many are turning to the regions, but they are arriving in country towns and coming to the realisation accommodation options are few and far between.

Blanchetown, in the state’s Riverland, is more than 1.5 hours from Adelaide, but the town’s caravan park has been taking calls from people from both the local area and from the city looking for short term accommodation.

Park owner Cassie Powell said she received a call from a mum of two who had 21 days to find a house, otherwise her family would be homeless. 

The woman told Ms Powell she would even accept just a week of accommodation, but unfortunately they were fully booked. 

“The scary thing is, if the government can’t do something, where do these people end up?” Ms Powell said. 

“Especially the mum and her kids, where do they go?”

21 jobs, one vacant house 

The trend of city-dwellers making the move to regional areas has grown since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the housing capacity in many towns to accommodate them is close to breaking point. 

It coincided with a $4.6 million federal government push to promote migration from the city to regional Australia to take up employment. 

Regional Development Australia, Eyre Peninsula, CEO Dion Dorward said the region wanted more employees, but does not have enough places to house them. 

“For instance Wudinna … has 21 jobs [available] and there is only one vacant house up there,” he said. 

The town of Wudinna, on the Eyre Peninsula, has 21 job vacancies available right now, but only one empty rental. (

Emma Pedler: ABC Multiplatform


“We know, as residents of the Eyre Peninsula, all that we have to offer, however we do need investment in housing and the type of infrastructure that’s required to compete against other regions in the market.” 

Demand ‘like we’ve never seen before’

Shelter SA executive director, Alice Clark said while there have been rental shortages in the past, the current demand was unprecedented. 

“It is systematically locking a large number of people and families out of private rentals.”  

Dr Alice Clark of Shelter SA, May 2017.(

ABC News: Simon Royal


“Dr Clark said the state government should aim to match the Victorian government’s plans to spend $5.3 billion on social housing across the next four years. 

“Things are not going to get better if there is no government action,” she said. 

“The gap between what they would pay in public housing and cheap private rental is getting bigger and bigger

In response to Dr Clark’s calls, a SA Housing Authority spokesperson said the state government is planning to spend $400 million to build 1,000 affordable homes by 2025. 

“Our $550 million strategy aims to help South Australians into home-ownership, prevent people falling into homelessness and ensure public housing is available for our most vulnerable,” the spokesperson said.

“The SA Housing Authority is a public housing provider and does not regulate the private rental market, however it does offer some supports to eligible people such as assistance with bond.”