IT’S no surprise to most Australians that the cost of living varies greatly from one city, state or territory to another.
But exactly which places are the most affordable when it comes to everyday expenses including rent, fuel, groceries, transport, utilities and education? And which ones will burn a hole in your pocket faster than the others?
The latest report from Numbeo, a cost of living website which collates prices of goods and services from hundreds of cities around the world, shows that almost everything is cheaper in Hobart compared to other major cities nationwide.
It also confirmed what Sydneysiders already knew: it’s the most expensive place to live in the country. Melbourne, Darwin and Perth trail closely behind.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said the government’s priorities – including the Australian mining sector – were out of whack. “I wish they’d just start talking about everyday Aussies in terms of cost of living,” he said on Wednesday.
While Sydney ranked 32 in the list of the world’s most expensive cities, it was the 16th most expensive city in terms of rent, according to Numbeo.
Sydney has this year risen to number 32 in this year’s Cost of Living Index, up from 41 last year, according to Numbeo.
Melbourne rose to 64, up from 77, while Adelaide, Cairns, Hobart and Canberra also moved up the list to 58, 69, 82 and 103 respectively.
Only Perth (56), Darwin (68) and Brisbane (93) have become more affordable, according to the site, which ranks the results based on information provided by thousands of residents.
RENT, CHILDCARE AND RESTAURANTS
A one-bedroom, city centre apartment costs an average of $2681.48 per month in Sydney.
That’s compared with Melbourne ($1767.60), Canberra ($1733.26), Brisbane ($1726.13), Adelaide ($1705.67), Gold Coast ($1568.92), Darwin ($1524.35), Perth ($1523.41) and Hobart ($1208.33). Those with kids can more than double their outgoing expenses if they live in Sydney with the cost of sending one child to childcare full-time for a month about $2038.27. Child care is even more expensive on the Gold Coast ($2250) but significantly cheaper in Adelaide ($1600), Melbourne ($1478), Brisbane ($1243), Perth ($1214), Darwin ($1,200), Canberra ($1168) and Hobart ($683.33), according to the site.
The data also showed that costs including groceries, rent and restaurant prices were most expensive in Sydney and Darwin, while cities like Hobart, Cairns and the Gold Coast had some of the cheapest.
COFFEE, PETROL, UTILITIES
But not all is lost for Sydney – while residents might be down thousands of dollars in rent, they’re up an entire buck or two when it comes to coffee. Sydney is home to country’s cheapest hot drinks with a regular cappuccino costing about $3.90, compared with the highest median price for the same item in Darwin, at $4.75.
The Northern Territory capital might be small in size – with a total population of about 250,000 people – but it’s also home to some of the highest prices for fuel and utilities nationwide.
The national average for unleaded petrol is 138.9c per litre. But in the NT, prices soar above the rest, with a median price of 183.9c per litre in the troubled town of Tennant Creek, 176.9c per litre in Alice Springs and 150.2c per litre in the capital of Darwin, according to 2018 NT government figures. The median price for monthly utilities – including power and water – in Darwin is $332.80. That’s compared with the cheapest average of $181.20 per month in Perth. Even a meal at McDonalds will cost about an extra $2 than in other states.
MILK, BREAD AND BEER
The Gold Coast is also where you can find the country’s cheapest bread, at $2.12 a loaf. Brisbane follows closely behind ($2.14), with Sydney selling the staple food at the highest average rate of $2.80. And if you’re up for a good time at the lowest price possible, the Gold Coast is also where it’s at, with the nation’s cheapest in-restaurant domestic beer ($5.75). That’s compared to the most expensive average of $8 in both Melbourne and Darwin.
For the more straight-laced, Hobart could be a better option, boasting the cheapest milk at $1.11 for one litre. In Perth, the same product costs consumers about $1.59 – the highest average in Australia.
But the most isolated city in the world makes up in electricity prices what it lacks in cartons of milk, offering the cheapest average price for utilities in the nation. The average monthly cost of a power and water bill in a 85m2 apartment in Perth is $181.2. That’s compared to
Darwin ($332.80), Adelaide ($297.95), Melbourne (214.82), Sydney ($176.69), Brisbane ($212.60), Hobart ($236.99), Canberra ($184.73) and the Gold Coast ($184.41).
Hobart is the most southern of Australia’s capital cities, its harbour is the second-deepest natural port in the world, making it a popular destination for boaties. It’s also one of the cheapest capital cities in the country although wages are also below the national average. Hobart is also known for its arts and culture, its majestic scenery such as Mt Wellington, picturesque waterways including the Derwent River and rich cafe and restaurant scene. With a median house price of $402,000, strong capital growth and good long- term projections, the area presents a solid market.
Even suburbs that are located within less than 2km from the CBD, including North Hobart and South Hobart, with median houses prices of $582,000 and $631,000, respectively, are relatively affordable compared to cities like Sydney, where the median house price is upwards of $1 million and Melbourne where it has pushed past $840,000.
In Victoria, households are shelling out almost $75,000 a year on general living expenses, a major study of spending habits reveals.
The 2017 Household Expenditure Survey found that in 2015-16 essentials cost $843 of the average $1430 Victorians spent on goods and services each week.
Housing costs – on rent, mortgages, rates and home-and-contents insurance – were the biggest drain ($257), the Herald Sun reported.
Food, including meals out and non-alcoholic drinks, cost $244, and transport – driving, taxi fares, and train, tram and bus fares – cost $218.
A buoyant Canberra housing market is leading to healthy long-term investment options for savvy homebuyers, according to RiskWise Property Research.
While the Sydney market goes flat, many Sydney-based investors and buyers’ agents are looking to Canberra – which has a median house price of about $750,000 – as a solid long-term property market that delivers both capital growth and solid rental return.
Less than 300km southwest of Sydney, Canberra has enjoyed solid capital growth of 23 per cent over the past five years and 10 per cent in the past 12 months.
RiskWise Property Research CEO Doron Peleg said it was a trend set to continue.
“This will be driven by ongoing population growth due to the strength of the local labour market and its growing status as a city of choice for a growing number of Australians,” Mr Peleg said.
“Canberra is a rapidly expanding city with a stable property market that offers relatively affordable housing (in house-to-income terms). In addition, ongoing infrastructure projects, such as the Canberra Light Rail Network, will bring significant benefits to the area.”
An hour’s drive from the state capital Brisbane, the Gold Coast is the sixth largest city in Australia and is forecast to have 1.2 million residents living there by 2050, according to demographer Bernard Salt. The region has a stable property market that offers relatively affordable beachside suburbs, such as Miami which has a median house price of $749,000, according to industry experts.
CoreLogic’s regional market update to December 2017 places the median house price at $634,423, while the median unit price is $411,229.
RiskWise CEO Doron Peleg said that despite gaining infamy for violent incidences and drunken behaviour in Surfers Paradise, the Gold Coast was one of the most popular destinations for both owner-occupiers and investors in southeast Queensland.
“It has beautiful beachside and waterside suburbs, an unrivalled lifestyle, good infrastructure, a large number of well-off residents and locals who describe the Gold Coast as ‘heaven for children’,” Mr Peleg said.
“The Gold Coast has a stable property market that offers both affordability and excellent access to superb beach and coastal areas, and that is very appealing to buyers.”
But there are fears about what will become of the glitter strip’s property market once the Commonwealth Games, set to start this month, are done and dusted.
Collier’s Gold Coast International director Darrell Irwin said property market indicators showed the region had a “healthy sector” that would survive the exodus when the curtain closes on the Games.
“The Games has brought forward infrastructure investment in projects such as the light rail construction, and upgrades to the aquatic centre and Carrara Stadium, which have helped fuel demand across the board in the residential, commercial office, retail, and industrial sectors,” he said.
“We’ve seen commercial office vacancy rates continue to fall over the last three years to the current level of 10.3 per cent as reported in the most recent Property Council of Australia figures.
“With no new office buildings under construction, we expect to see that vacancy rate fall further.
“Similarly in the industrial market, there’s been strong demand, a falling vacancy rate and limited land supply.”
Queensland is the next property hotspot, experts say
As New South Wales and Victoria continue to experience weakness. Queensland is expected to take the lead, a National Australia Bank (NAB) poll of property professionals revealed.
According to the survey, industry experts project house prices in Queensland to increase by 0.7% next year and 1.3% in two years.
Some areas seen to perform strongly over the next year include Brisbane, Cairns, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast. Out of the suburbs, Coomera and New Farm are expected to realize robust gains.
Meanwhile, Queensland’s rental market is also poised to enjoy an upward boost, growing by 1.3% next year and 1.9% in two years. This is despite the stricter rules on housing investment.
The respondents of the survey also expect Queensland to retain foreign buyer interest. In fact, the share of foreign sales hit a four-year high of 22.8% over the previous quarter.
The results of the survey go against NAB’s own projection of the market. For instance, the bank expects house prices to remain flat in Brisbane over the next three years. Unit prices, on the other hand, is seen to fall by 4.5% over the next year.
NAB chief economist Alan Oster said Brisbane’s housing market seemed to be going sideways and its unit market still creates concern.
“It hasn’t peaked yet, so that’s good. We’re seeing quite strong economic activity in Queensland, so that always helps,” Oster said, as quoted by The Courier-Mail.
Gold Coast house values record the biggest growth in Queensland
The Gold Coast has recorded the strongest growth in house prices in Queensland over the past 12 months.
GOLD Coast house prices are leading the way in Queensland, up six per cent in the past 12 months to an average $620,000.
The latest figures by the Real Estate Institute of Queensland show homes on the Glitter Strip are $35,000 more on the same time last year.
Unit prices are up 1.9 per cent to $428,000.
REIQ data reveals houses on the Glitter Strip are worth $35,000 on the same time last year.
REIQ’s Queensland Market Monitor for March said the strong population growth came on the back of infrastructure projects such as the $550 million Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct and M1 upgrades.
“The property market has been one of the big winners from the sporting event as the $1.5 billion infrastructure investment has boosted confidence and demand for housing in the region,” the report stated.
“We expect house prices will show an upward path in 2018. However, this growth will most likely be more moderate.”
A quiet real estate period leading up to, and during, the Commonwealth Games likely contributed to a slight drop (-0.3 per cent) in the March quarterly median sales price, the report reveals.
Andrew Henderson says a growing population and employment opportunities were contributing to a strong property market. Picture: Jerad Williams
REIQ Gold Coast zone chairman Andrew Henderson said he expected interstate migration to continue to benefit the city.
“I expect the market to remain strong,” he said.
“There is a heavy amount of interstate buyers moving here.
“I was at an auction recently where the winning bidder was from Sydney and the underbidder was from Melbourne.”
Mr Henderson said growing employment opportunities were also attracting homebuyers to the city.
The Gold Coast property market is expected to remain strong.
“We have some of the best health facilities in the country and our universities are world recognised.
“Those two things alone complement the tourism industry and the lifestyle aspects that the Coast offers.”
The report found the fastest-selling suburbs on the Coast included Worongary, Merrimac, Highland Park, Mudgeeraba and Carrara.
It also revealed the rental vacancy held tight throughout the first quarter of the year at 1.1 per cent.
Andrew Bell says the Coast had evolved from a tourist town into a vibrant city with an expanding economy. Picture Mike Batterham
Ray White Surfers Paradise Group CEO Andrew Bell said the Games heralded the next chapter for the Coast, as it evolved from a tourist town into a vibrant city with an expanding economy.
“The city’s property market is riding the irreversible momentum that has now come to the Gold Coast in terms of economic diversity and with more employment options we will need more housing options for people,” Mr Bell said.
“We are no longer going to be subject to tourism upsides and downsides as we were in the past because our economy has well and truly diversified beyond just tourism.”
Australia’s golden triangle of opportunity
It was great to be back on the Gold Coast for the 21st annual Australasian Real Estate Conference (AREC), attended by over 4,000 of Australia’s best industry professionals. While I was there I was once again reminded of how much potential the South-East Queensland property market is offering both sea changers and investors at this stage in its market cycle.
In my view, Brisbane is the best market in Australia currently for short to medium term price growth, with the value gap between it and the other big East Coast capitals as large as I’ve seen it in many years.
When you factor in the key drivers for future growth – liveability, affordability, scale and future economic prospects, they all suggest that Brisbane is a market to invest in. Check out the latest statistics from CoreLogic below.
Value gap – median house prices
Value gap – median apartment prices
I’ve been bullish on Brisbane for many years and in hindsight, I called its next growth phase a couple of years too early. It’s had some growth in recent years but there is a lot more to come over the next few years.
According to McGrath’s top prestige agent in Brisbane, Alex Jordan, one of the dominant trends today is downsizers buying up luxury apartments.
Alex says: “Despite the reported oversupply in Brisbane’s inner city apartment market, we are seeing great strength in the prestige apartment sector.
“The luxury apartment market ($1M+) is driven by owner occupiers, particularly baby boomers and empty nesters, who are attracted to less maintenance and better accessibility.
“Popular suburbs include New Farm, Newstead, Teneriffe, Kangaroo Point, South Brisbane, St Lucia, Paddington and the Brisbane CBD. These areas offer a desirable lifestyle with an abundance of shopping, dining and entertaining precincts at their doorstep.”
South East Queensland has so many options for asset-rich, cash-poor southerners. Many of our customers in Sydney and Melbourne are looking closely at South East Queensland both for investment and a potential sea change. I believe its affordability will continue to attract record levels of interstate migration.
If you live in Sydney or Melbourne and you’re struggling with the mortgage and cost of living, Brisbane is a fantastic alternative. It offers big city job opportunities, high quality education options and the chance to transform your financial future.
The boom delivered Sydney and Melbourne home owners a capital gain of up to 75% – that’s enormous new equity that could be cashed in to fund an amazing new lifestyle with far less mortgage stress up north. Plus, you’d be buying in just before Brisbane’s next wave of price growth. It’s the perfect scenario.
I believe the area from the Gold Coast to Toowoomba and up to the Sunshine Coast is Australia’s golden triangle right now.
Toowoomba, with its expanded airport facilities which have opened up easy access to the south, is the perfect and affordable treechange destination. Known as Queensland’s Garden City, about 2,300 people moved here from Brisbane last year for its cheaper house prices and enjoyable regional city lifestyle.
Both the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are also appealing sea change options benefitting from a raft of new infrastructure that will drive further population growth and generate more local jobs.
Brisbane is one of the world’s great cities but I don’t think this is fully realised as yet. If you haven’t been to Brisbane for a number of years, get on a plane. This is a thriving city that offers many of the lifestyle amenities you love about the southern capitals but at a much cheaper price.
I think Brisbane will also become very attractive to migration and investment from Asia in the years ahead.
South East Queensland is offering opportunity everywhere for both owner occupiers and investors alike. Now’s the time to consider what Australia’s premier lifestyle market can do for you!
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