On the surface, Armidale and Tamworth are bucking the state's regional trend by having affordable rental prices.
Yet experts and locals on the ground say the reality outside of what is shown by the Rental Affordability Index (RAI) is much different.
St Vincent de Paul's regional manager Phil Donnan and our Salvation Army captain Harriet Farquhar say they've seen an exponential increase in people reaching out for rental assistance.
They say rental stress in the region is attributed to three main things: a drop in JobKeeper and JobSeeker supplements, an influx of people moving from the city pushing prices up and a lack of affordable options due to low vacancy rates.
The RAI indicates rent prices relative to household incomes, released annually by National Shelter, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, SGS Economics and Planning and the Brotherhood of St Laurence.
Kishan Ratnam, senior consultant and partner of SGS, says an 'acceptable' amount to pay for rent is around 25 per cent of a household's income. Over 30 per cent, or a rating of 100, is classified as 'stressed'.
There is not enough low income affordable accommodation. People have been going to a higher priced rental than what they can afford because it's the only thing available.Harriet Farquhar
"Tamworth and Armidale, they are more affordable having a rating of around 135, which is much better when compared to 124 for regional NSW as a whole," he told the Express.
"People are still very much still struggling with rental affordability," Mr Donnan said.
"There's been a significant increase in people looking for assistance. As supplements are pulled back further, we are expecting to see people who've never had to access help before."
Ms Farquhar says that although rentals may be deemed affordable, there is not enough vacancies.
"There is not enough low income affordable accommodation. People have been going to a higher priced rental than what they can afford because it's the only thing available," she said.
Mr Ratnam said more people moving from city to regional areas in the short term will put an upward pressure on rent prices for existing residents.
"In the medium to longer term, having more workers from city in regional areas will stimulate the economy, encourage more housing development, so will potentially ease vacancy rates in the long term."