Australian cities are becoming more desirable every year, with communities everywhere breathing new life into suburbs. You may wonder, “How does my city compare to others?” Are you in the same financial straits as everyone else? And how does your ‘booming’ suburb compare to others? We took a look at several studies to examine the top areas in the country for population size, population density, geographical size, home size, and affordability. Let’s see how your city stacks up!

Sydney takes out the ‘population size’ crown

The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that all states and territories’ populations are on the rise, growing by an average of 1.5% in one year starting September 2013. Major urban centres continue to grow faster than rural populations.

The top 3 Australian cities by population, as of June 2014:

  1. Sydney – 4,840,628 (20.61% of total Australian population)
  2. Melbourne – 4,440,328 (18.9%)
  3. Brisbane – 2,274,460 (9.68%)

According to these population experts, ‘Melbourne is growing faster and should overtake Sydney within about 25 years on current trends.’

Population density goes to Sydney too

Population density is a major predictor of housing prices and mortgages: the more people want to live in a particular area, the higher the prices get.

The major capital cities have the highest density of people per square kilometre, and that density looks set to increase in the near future. Topography and geography can have a big impact on density, for example, Sydney is constrained by sea and mountains which pushes density up on the available land.

The 3 most densely populated cities in Australia are

  1. Sydney
  2. Melbourne
  3. Brisbane

Brisbane takes geographical size

Sydney is constrained by the Harbour around which it was built, so the footprint of the city itself is limited. Brisbane City itself has the largest area of any in Australia, and Greater Brisbane is still growing in all directions. It is also the third largest city in the world, geographically.

Related: A simple explanation of the Australian property cycle

Melbourne has some geographical restrictions, but the sprawl continues to expand, and will do so for the foreseeable future, despite increasing inner urban population density. However, it’s still not as large as Greater Sydney in terms of size.

The largest cities in Australia in order of spread are:

  1. Brisbane
  2. Sydney
  3. Melbourne

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By generation size (iGen, Gen X&Y, and BB)

Generational population spread is a different story, with our workforce remaining near urban centres while retirees move away from cities.

Generations X & Y (those aged between 28 to 47) are the predominant participants in the workforce, and so are found clustered around major capital cities, where a majority of the work can be found.

Younger people, the digital natives of the so-called iGeneration (those aged between 8 to 27), are found in places with established educational institutions – though this has an impact on the location of their parents too.

The highest proportion of each generation was found in the following locations in 2014.

  • Baby Boomers (persons aged between 48 and 67 years) – Benalla region, Victoria
  • Generation X & Y – Darlinghurst, Greater Sydney NSW
  • iGeneration – Acton, ACT

Western Australia has the biggest homes

Australian homes are the largest in the world per person, according to new research, as reported here, and the trend seems like it will continue for some time.

The end of the mining boom and increasing pressure on urban growth centres may see their houses shrink in size in line with eastern states in the future – however, we still live in very big homes when we compare them with international trends.

The states with the largest homes are

  1. Western Australia
  2. Adelaide
  3. Brisbane

Tasmania have the highest proportion of people living in rural areas

In Australia, over two thirds of the population live in major cities, with the remaining third living in rural areas. Such areas are sometimes close to the city, or can be in very remote parts of the country.

Tasmania takes the crown for highest proportion of people living in rural areas, but as the ABS classify Hobart as “inner regional” TAS technically have no “major cities”.

The proportion or rural versus urban on the mainland vary from state to state: Queensland has the lowest proportion of people living in urban areas at 59%, meaning 41% live outside major cities.

The states with the highest proportion of people living outside major cities:

  1. Tasmania – 100%
  2. Queensland – 40.4%
  3. Western Australia – 28.5%

Looking to buy a property? Comparing home loans is a good way to see what’s affordable

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The least affordable housing across three states

Housing affordability in Australia has a great deal to do with population pressure and density in the capital cities, and the top five most expensive suburbs are found in Sydney, the most populous city.

Affordable housing is more likely to be found in rural areas, as less people are looking to move to remote areas. But there are good reasons for avoiding low density areas, most obviously the lack of services available.

The most expensive places to buy a property in Australia are

  1. Point Piper, Sydney (median value $7 million+)
  2. Peppermint Grove, Perth (median value $4 million+)
  3. Toorak, Melbourne (median value $2 million+)

The cheapest properties are to be found far away from these hot spots, but mostly lack the charm, amenities and convenience of their more expensive competition. Have a look at some of these “bargains” for less than $100,000.

Although average rental affordability remained below 30% across all Aussie states, those households that fell into the lowest 40% of income faced highly unaffordable rents, according to the Rental Affordability Index report released in 2015. In some cases, Australians are spending more than 60% of their income on housing, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

If you think you’re paying too much on your mortgage, why not compare home loans and see if you could get a better deal with another lender?


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