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Inner-city or outer suburbs: where can you afford to buy?

11 min read
10 Sep 2021
Inner city of Sydney

New research sheds light on just how far away from the city you might have to look in order to buy a home.

The PRD Major City Metro Update 2nd Half 20211, released today, divides the property markets of each major city into three different rings based on their proximity to CBD: inner-city (0-5km), middle (5-10km), and outer rings (10-20km).

PRD analysed data over the six months to June 2021 for Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Hobart and the Gold Coast, and the results across each market show plenty of differences between a number of different, vibrant markets.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, while the suburbs further away from the CBD have lower median prices and are more affordable, those closer to the city have recorded higher growth for their owners.

Here’s what PRD’s research found for properties in Australia’s three biggest markets: Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.



Source: PRD2

Sydney recorded the most substantial price growth over a five-year period, with median house prices across all three rings averaging a 13.43% increase between 2017 and 2021. That’s a median price increase of $255,667 when averaged across all three.

PRD’s data also shows Sydney comfortably has the highest prices in general, with the median house prices for both inner and middle rings sitting at and above $2.4 million.

The outer ring, on the other hand, had a median house price of almost $800,000 below the other two at $1,627,000 as of 2021.

This makes outer suburbs the most affordable for Sydney home buyers. According to PRD, buyers with a budget of $1,500,000 or less can only access 11.1% of Sydney’s inner ring and 12.4% of the middle ring, compared to 43.1% of the outer ring.

Units were much more affordable in general, with median prices of $1,030,000 (inner), $890,000 (middle) and $732,000 (outer) as of June 2021.

Price growth for units was also much more stable, with median unit values the highest in outer suburbs at just 3.1% since 2017.

Units in outer Sydney were also the only Sydney property where buyers scored a discount, with final purchase prices sitting 0.8% below the initial asking price.

For comparison, houses in inner Sydney were sold at an 8.8% premium.


Source: PRD



Source: PRD3

Melbourne’s property market has seen “exceptional growth” between 2017-2021, particularly in the outer ring, where median prices rose by 11.5% for houses and 15.7% for units.

According to PRD’s report, the outer ring remains the most affordable option, and while median prices there are inching closer to the $1 million mark at $920,000 (houses), this is still well below Sydney.


  • Houses in inner Melbourne have a median price of $1,560,000 while units cost $585,000
  • Houses in middle Melbourne have a median price of $1,350,000, and units cost $660,000
  • House prices in inner Melbourne grew by 9.9% from 2017-2021, and units grew 3%
  • Houses prices in middle Melbourne grew 5.9% in the same time frame and units grew 11.9%.

“As the city faced COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, the outer ring market continued to surge due to working from home options becoming more commonplace and Government stimulus to increase homeownership,” the report notes.

“The outer ring recorded the highest median house price growth in the past 5 years (and) remains to be the most affordable option.

“Middle and outer ring unit prices continue to outpace that of the inner ring, with the outer ring being the most expensive.”

Buyers looking for a bargain can snag an average 2.6% vendor discount off the listed sale price on an inner-ring unit in Melbourne.


Source: PRD



Source: PRD4

While Melbourne’s growth was called “exceptional”, PRD’s report says Brisbane saw “exponential” growth.

Brisbane’s inner ring’s median house price now sits at $1.2 million, recording a 29% increase in just one year, or $270,000.

Middle ring houses saw a median price increase of 23.3% (+$155,000), while outer ring houses surged by 15.7% (+$85,000).

Strong interstate migration from all over Australia is a key reason for Brisbane’s high levels of growth.

“Median house prices have shown solid growth in all rings since 2017, indicative of continued confidence in the Brisbane market,” the report said.

“Median house rental prices have strengthened, particularly in the middle and outer ring, as working from home becomes a norm.”

PRD’s analysis shows that Brisbane house buyers with a budget of $800,000 and less can only access 13.1% of the inner market; 44.6% of the middle ring; and 76.1% of the outer ring.


Source: PRD

Demand for property at an all-time high

Lockdowns have seemingly done nothing to stop the relentless quest to buy property, with new data from REA showing email enquiries to agents are at an all-time high.

The REA Insights Housing Market Indicators Report for September 2021 revealed the volume of email enquiries to real estate agents rose 12.2% over just one month in August, mostly due to millions of people being unable to attend open homes.

Houses remained the dominant type of property enquired about with 61.9% of all enquiries, followed by units (29.1%) and then land (9.0%).

Views per listing also reached a new record, rising almost 47% year-on-year, and weekly search volumes for properties for sale increased by 1.8% nationally last week to be 17.6% higher year-on-year.

“The national housing market continued to see strong demand for residential properties throughout  August. Limited housing stock available for sale combined with prolonged lockdowns in a number of states and territories has created difficult conditions for buyers,” REA Group Director Economic Research, Cameron Kusher, said in the report.

“It is likely pent-up supply and demand will be released once lockdowns ease and the typical  increase in new listings that comes with spring could help provide buyers with more choice and reduce some of the competition for individual  properties.”


Image via Shutterstock
1. PRD Major City Metro Update 2nd Half 2021, 8 September 2021.
2. PRD Major City Market Update 2H 2021 – Sydney, 8 September 2021.
3. PRD Major City Market Update 2H 2021 – Melbourne, 8 September 2021.
4. PRD Major City Market Update 2H 2021 – Brisbane, 8 September 2021.
5. REA Insights Housing Market Indicators Report, 8 September 2021.

What are Sydney’s inner ring suburbs? (0-5km from the CBD)

Alexandria, Annandale, Balmain, Balmain East, Barangaroo, Beaconsfield, Bellevue Hill, Birchgrove, Bondi Junction, Cammeray, Camperdown, Centennial Park, Chippendale, Cremorne, Cremorne Point, Crows Nest, Darling Point, Darlinghurst, Darlington, Dawes Point, Double Bay, Drummoyne, Edgecliff, Elizabeth Bay, Enmore, Erskineville, Eveleigh, Forest Lodge, Glebe, Greenwich, Haymarket, Kensington, Kirribilli, Kurraba Point, Lavender Bay, Leichhardt, Lilyfield, McMahons Point, Millers Point, Milsons Point, Moore Park, Mosman, Neutral Bay, Newtown, North Sydney, Northwood, Paddington, Point Piper, Potts Point, Pyrmont, Queens Park, Randwick, Redfern, Rosebery, Rozelle, Rushcutters Bay, St Leonards, Stanmore, Surry Hills, Sydney, The Rocks, Ultimo, Waterloo, Waverton, Wollstonecraft, Woollahra, Woolloomooloo, Woolwich, Zetland.

What are Sydney’s middle ring suburbs? (5-10km from the CBD)

Abbotsford, Arncliffe, Artarmon, Ashbury, Ashfield, Balgowlah, Balgowlah Heights, Banksia, Banksmeadow, Bardwell Park, Bardwell Valley, Bondi, Bondi Beach, Botany, Breakfast Point, Bronte, Burwood, Burwood Heights, Cabarita, Campsie, Canada Bay, Canterbury, Castle Cove, Castlecrag, Chatswood, Chatswood West, Chiswick, Clontarf, Clovelly, Concord, Coogee, Croydon, Croydon Park, Daceyville, Dover Heights, Dulwich Hill, Earlwood, East Ryde, Eastgardens, Eastlakes, Fairlight, Five Dock, Gladesville, Haberfield, Henley, Hillsdale, Hunters Hill, Huntleys Cove, Huntleys Point, Hurlstone Park, Killarney Heights, Kingsford, Kyeemagh, Lane Cove, Lane Cove North, Lane Cove West, Lewisham, Lindfield, Linley Point, Longueville, Macquarie Park, Manly, Maroubra, Marrickville, Mascot, Matraville, Middle Cove, Mortlake, Naremburn, North Balgowlah, North Bondi, North Ryde, North Willoughby, Northbridge, Pagewood, Petersham, bPutney, Riverview, Rodd Point, Rose Bay, Roseville, Roseville Chase, Russell Lea, Ryde, Seaforth, South Coogee, St Peters, Strathfield, Summer Hill, Sydenham, Tamarama, Tempe, Tennyson Point, Turrella, Vaucluse, Wareemba, Watsons Bay, Waverley, Willoughby, Willoughby East, Wolli Creek.

What are Sydney’s outer ring suburbs? (10-20km from the CBD)

Allambie Heights, Allawah, Auburn, Bankstown, Bankstown Aerodrome, Bass Hill, Beacon Hill, Beecroft, Belfield, Belmore, Belrose, Berala, Beverley Park, Beverly Hills, Bexley, Bexley North, Birrong, Blakehurst, Brighton-le-Sands, Brookvale, Camellia, Caringbah, Carlingford, Carlton, Carss Park, Cheltenham, Chester Hill, Chifley, Chullora, Clemton Park, Clyde, Collaroy, Collaroy Plateau, Como, Concord West, Condell Park, Connells Point, Cromer, Cronulla, Curl Curl, Davidson, Dee Why, Denistone, Denistone East, Denistone West, Dolls Point, Dundas, Dundas Valley, East Killara, East Lindfield, Eastwood, Elanora Heights, Enfield, Epping, Ermington, Forestville, Frenchs Forest, Freshwater, Georges Hall, Gordon, Granville, Greenacre, Greenhills Beach, Guildford, Harris Park, Holroyd, Homebush, Homebush West, Hornsby, Hurstville, Hurstville Grove, Illawong, Ingleside, Jannali, Kangaroo Point, Kareela, Killara, Kingsgrove, Kogarah, Kogarah Bay, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase, Kurnell, Kyle Bay, La Perouse, Lakemba, Liberty Grove, Lidcombe, Little Bay, Lugarno, Malabar, Manly Vale, Marsfield, Meadowbank, Melrose Park, Merrylands, Miranda, Monterey, Mortdale, Mount Lewis, Mullion, Narrabeen, Narraweena, Narwee, Newington, Normanhurst, North Curl Curl, North Epping, North Manly, North Narrabeen, North Parramatta, North Rocks, North Strathfield, North Turramurra, North Wahroonga, Oatlands, Oatley, Oxford Falls, Oyster Bay, Padstow, Padstow Heights, Parramatta, Peakhurst, Peakhurst Heights, Pennant Hills, Penshurst, Phillip Bay, Port Botany, Potts Hill, Punchbowl, Pymble, Queenscliff, Ramsgate, Ramsgate Beach, Regents Park, Revesby, Rhodes, Riverwood, Rockdale, Rookwood, Rosehill, Roselands, Rydalmere, Sandringham, Sans Souci, Sefton, Silverwater, South Granville, South Hurstville, South Turramurra, St Ives, St Ives Chase, Strathfield South, Sydney Olympic Park, Sylvania, Sylvania Waters, Taren Point, Telopea, Terrey Hills, Thornleigh, Turramurra, Villawood, Wahroonga, Waitara, Warrawee, Wentworth Point, West Pennant Hills, West Pymble, West Ryde, Wheeler Heights, Wiley Park, Woolooware, Yagoona

What are Melbourne’s inner ring suburbs? (0-5km from the CBD)

Abbotsford, Albert Park, Ascot Vale, Brunswick, Brunswick East, Brunswick West, Carlton, Carlton North, Clifton Hill, Collingwood, Cremorne, Docklands, East Melbourne, Fairfield, Fitzroy, Fitzroy North, Flemington, Kensington, Kew, Melbourne, Middle Park, North Melbourne, Northcote, Parkville, Port Melbourne, Prahran, Princes Hill, Richmond, South Melbourne, South Wharf, South Yarra, Southbank, St Kilda, St Kilda West, Travancore, West Melbourne, Windsor.

What are Melbourne’s middle ring suburbs? (5-10km from the CBD)

Aberfeldie, Alphington, Altona, Altona North, Armadale, Avondale Heights, Balaclava, Balwyn, Balwyn North, Bellfield, Braybrook, Brighton, Brooklyn, Bulleen, Burnley, Camberwell, Canterbury, Caulfield, Caulfield East, Caulfield North, Caulfield South, Coburg, Coburg North, Deepdene, Eaglemont, Elsternwick, Elwood, Essendon, Essendon Fields, Essendon North, Essendon West, Footscray, Gardenvale, Glen Iris, Hawthorn, Hawthorn East, Heidelberg West, Ivanhoe, Ivanhoe East, Keilor East, Kew East, Kingsville, Kooyong, Maidstone, Malvern, Malvern East, Maribyrnong, Moonee Ponds, Newport, Niddrie, Pascoe Vale, Pascoe Vale South, Preston, Reservoir, Ripponlea, Seddon, South Kingsville, Spotswood, St Kilda East, Strathmore, Thornbury, Toorak, Tottenham, West Footscray, Williamstown, Williamstown North, Yarraville.

What are Melbourne’s outer ring suburbs? (10-20km from the CBD)

Airport West, Albanvale, Albion, Altona Meadows, Ardeer, Ashburton, Ashwood, Attwood, Beaumaris, Bentleigh, Bentleigh East, Black Rock, Blackburn, Blackburn North, Blackburn South, Box Hill, Box Hill North, Box Hill South, Briar Hill, Brighton East, Broadmeadows, Bundoora, Burnside, Burnside Heights, Burwood, Burwood East, Cairnlea, Campbellfield, Carnegie, Caroline Springs, Chadstone, Cheltenham, Clarinda, Clayton, Clayton South, Coolaroo, Dallas, Deer Park, Delahey, Derrimut, Doncaster, Doncaster East, Donvale, Eltham, Eltham North, Epping, Fawkner, Forest Hill, Gladstone Park, Glen Huntly, Glen Waverley, Glenroy, Gowanbrae, Greensborough, Greenvale, Hadfield, Hampton, Hampton East, Heatherton, Heidelberg, Heidelberg Heights, Highett, Hughesdale, Huntingdale, Jacana, Kealba, Keilor, Keilor Downs, Keilor Lodge, Keilor North, Keilor Park, Kings Park, Kingsbury, Lalor, Laverton, Laverton North, Lower Plenty, Macleod, McKinnon, Meadow Heights, Melbourne Airport, Mentone, Mill Park, Mitcham, Mont Albert, Mont Albert North, Montmorency, Moorabbin, Mount Waverley, Mulgrave, Murrumbeena, Notting Hill, Nunawading, Oak Park, Oakleigh, Oakleigh East, Oakleigh South, Ormond, Plenty, Point Cook, Ravenhall, Rosanna, Roxburgh Park, Sandringham, Seabrook, Seaholme, Somerton, St Albans, St Helena, Strathmore Heights, Sunshine, Sunshine North, Sunshine West, Surrey Hills, Sydenham, Taylors Lakes, Templestowe, Templestowe Lower, Thomastown, Truganina, Tullamarine, Vermont, Vermont South, Viewbank, Warrandyte, Watsonia, Watsonia North, Westmeadows, Williams Landing, Yallambie.

What are Brisbane’s outer ring suburbs? (0-5km from the CBD)

Albion, Alderley, Annerley, Ascot, Ashgrove, Auchenflower, Balmoral, Bardon, Bowen Hills, Brisbane City, Bulimba, Camp Hill, Clayfield, Coorparoo, Dutton Park, East Brisbane, Fairfield, Fortitude Valley, Grange, Greenslopes, Hamilton, Hawthorne, Herston, Highgate Hill, Kangaroo Point, Kelvin Grove, Lutwyche, Milton, Morningside, New Farm, Newmarket, Newstead, Norman Park, Paddington, Petrie Terrace, Red Hill, Seven Hills, South Brisbane, Spring Hill, St Lucia, Taringa, Teneriffe, Toowong, West End, Wilston, Windsor, Woolloongabba, Wooloowin, Yeronga.

What are Brisbane’s middle ring suburbs? (5-10km from the CBD)

Arana Hills, Archerfield, Aspley, Belmont, Brisbane Airport, Cannon Hill, Carina, Carina Heights, Carindale, Chapel Hill, Chelmer, Chermside, Chermside West, Coopers Plains, Corinda, Eagle Farm, Enoggera, Enoggera Reservoir, Everton Hills, Everton Park, Fig Tree Pocket, Gaythorne, Geebung, Gordon Park, Graceville, Hemmant, Hendra, Holland Park, Holland Park West, Indooroopilly, Kalinga, Kedron, Kenmore, Kenmore Hills, Keperra, Mansfield, McDowall, Mitchelton, Moorooka, Mount Coot-tha, Mount Gravatt, Mount Gravatt East, Murarrie, Nathan, Northgate, Nundah, Oxley, Pinkenba, Rocklea, Salisbury, Sherwood, Stafford, Stafford Heights, Tarragindi, Tennyson, The Gap, Tingalpa, Upper Kedron, Upper Mount Gravatt, Virginia, Wavell Heights, Yeerongpilly.

What are Brisbane’s outer ring suburbs? (10-20km from the CBD)

Acacia Ridge, Albany Creek, Alexandra Hills, Algester, Anstead, Bald Hills, Banyo, Bellbowrie, Birkdale, Boondall, Bracken Ridge, Bray Park, Brendale, Bridgeman Downs, Brighton, Brookfield, Bunya, Burbank, Calamvale, Camira, Camp Mountain, Capalaba, Carole Park, Carseldine, Cashmere, Chandler, Clear Mountain, Closeburn, Daisy Hill, Darra, Deagon, Doolandella, Draper, Drewvale, Durack, Eatons Hill, Eight Mile Plains, Ellen Grove, Ferny Grove, Ferny Hills, Fitzgibbon, Forest Lake, Gailes, Goodna, Greenbank, Griffin, Gumdale, Heathwood, Inala, Jamboree Heights, Jindalee, Jollys Lookout, Karalee, Karawatha, Kholo, Kuraby, Lake Manchester, Larapinta, Lawnton, Logan Central, Lota, Lytton, Macgregor, Mackenzie, Manly, Manly West, Middle Park, Moggill, Mount Crosby, Mount Ommaney, Murrumba Downs, Nudgee, Nudgee Beach, Pallara, Parkinson, Pinjarra Hills, Port Of Brisbane, Priestdale, Pullenvale, Ransome, Redbank, Richlands, Riverhills, Robertson, Rochedale, Rochedale South, Runcorn, Samford Valley, Samford Village, Sandgate, Seventeen Mile Rocks, Sheldon, Shorncliffe, Sinnamon Park, Slacks Creek, Springwood, Strathpine, Stretton, Sumner, Sunnybank, Sunnybank Hills, Taigum, Thorneside, Underwood, Upper Brookfield, Wacol, Wakerley, Warner, Wellington Point, Westlake, Wights Mountain, Willawong, Wishart, Woodridge, Wynnum, Wynnum West, Yugar, Zillmere.

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avatar of author: William Jolly

Written by William Jolly

William is a Senior Finance Writer at Compare the Market, and has previously worked as a finance journalist for several years. He specialises in writing about financial products like home loans in ways that the average Australian can understand and enjoy. When he's not writing about saving money, William enjoys playing football (soccer), watching a good movie and spending time with his dog.

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