Head for the hills: Australia's most affordable regions

An overheated housing market is making life tougher for downsizers, tree and sea changers and investors seeking affordable property. But a new report identifies the regions that offer the best value.

Investment site nestegg.com.au says median house prices in capital cities have increased by 6 per cent to $825,205 and home affordability has decreased by -1.8 per cent, forcing many into a rethink about regional options.

The prd.com Stand Out Regions report took into account: affordability based on median prices; growth trends; rental yield and vacancy rates; infrastructure development, and job growth.

It said: “These areas not only have median price affordability, but also provide strong indicators for property investment, local employment growth and a sustainable economic future.”

Read more: Housing boom to increase inequality

PRD chief economist Dr Diaswati Mardiasmo said: “Housing affordability is now more than ever an issue, especially within metro capital cities.

“Regional areas have become the most attractive option in 2020 due to flexible remote working being introduced amidst COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

“Many regional markets have seen buyers capitalising on lower median property prices.” 

Dr Diaswati said many locations offered great returns for investors as well as for homebuyers.

“Regional areas have also become an attractive investment option over city capitals, as vacancy rates have been at record low levels, while also offering a higher rental return,” she said. 

“With metro capital cities becoming increasingly unaffordable, now is an opportune time to identify key regional growth areas for those looking to purchase in a more affordable market.” 

Read more: Housing affordability crisis widens wealth gap

Top 10 most affordable regions

Queensland
Whitsundays (north Queensland)

Median house price: $375,000

Median unit price: $260,000

Median land price: $155,000

Vacancy rate: 1.5 per cent

House rental yield: 5.7 per cent

Unit rental yield: 6.7 per cent

Unemployment rate: 6.4 per cent

Toowoomba (southeast Queensland)
Median house price: $380,000

Median unit price: $315,000

Median land price: $185,000

Vacancy rate: 0.9 per cent

House rental yield: 5.0 per cent

Unit rental yield: 5.3 per cent

Unemployment rate: 6.7 per cent

Mackay (north Queensland)
Median house price: $380,000

Median unit price: $315,000

Median land price: $185,000

Vacancy rate: 0.9 per cent

House rental yield: 5.0 per cent

Unit rental yield: 5.3 per cent

Unemployment rate: 6.7 per cent

NSW
Port Stephens (north of Sydney)

Median house price: $619,750

Median unit price: $425,000

Median land price: $254,000

Vacancy rate: 0.5 per cent

House rental yield: 3.9 per cent

Unit rental yield: 5.5 per cent

Unemployment rate: 5.6 per cent

Federation (Riverina region)
Median house price: $293,500

Median unit price: $253,000

Median land price: $130,000

Vacancy rate: 0.8 per cent

House rental yield: 4.9 per cent

Unit rental yield: 5.4 per cent

Unemployment rate: 4.1 per cent

Greater Hume (southern NSW)
Median house price: $237,500

Median unit price: $270,000

Median land price: $121,000

Vacancy rate: 1.0 per cent

House rental yield: 4.5 per cent

Unit rental yield: 5.6 per cent

Unemployment rate: 2.8 per cent

Victoria
Greater Geelong (southern Victoria)

Median house price: $590,000

Median unit price: $460,000

Median land price: $285,000

Vacancy rate: 0.9 per cent

House rental yield: 3.6 per cent

Unit rental yield: 4.1 per cent

Unemployment rate: 4.6 per cent

Greater Bendigo (central Victoria)
Median house price: $415,000

Median unit price: $305,000

Median land price: $164,000

Vacancy rate: 0.8 per cent

House rental yield: 4.5 per cent

Unit rental yield: 5.8 per cent

Unemployment rate: 5.4 per cent

Warrnambool (southwestern Victoria)
Median house price: $408,000

Median unit price: $317,000

Median land price: $150,000

Vacancy rate: 0.4 per cent

House rental yield: 4.4 per cent

Unit rental yield: 5.8 per cent

Unemployment rate: 3.5 per cent

Tasmania
Circular Head (northwestern Tasmania)

Median house price: $255,000

Median unit price: $227,000

Median land price: $85,000

Vacancy rate: 0.4 per cent

House rental yield: 4.7 per cent

Unit rental yield: 3.5 per cent

Unemployment rate: 4.7 per cent

If you’re interested in more than dollars and cents, Ballarat is the best regional city to live in, according to liveability research from RMIT University in 2020.

“Victoria is home to Australia’s most liveable regional cities – Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong – according to research that for the first time maps health and liveability across the country’s 21 largest cities,” the researchers concluded.

“Ballarat performed best for access to public transport and public open space in the analysis by RMIT University and ranked in the top five for access to supermarkets, local employment and services, and housing affordability based on the summary measures.

“Geelong ranked highly, together with Bendigo, performing strongly across four of the liveability measures.”

In other states, the most liveable regional cities were Wollongong (NSW), Toowoomba (Queensland) and Launceston (Tasmania).

Has the surge in property prices changed your retirement plans? Or your investment plans? 

Read more: Foes unite to call for more social housing

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Written by Will Brodie



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