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Emerging Destinations: Queensland, Western Australia, and More – The New Hotspots for Affordable Lifestyle and Property Growth

Queensland and Western Australia are poised to emerge as the primary beneficiaries as individuals increasingly depart from major cities in search of affordable lifestyle emerging destinations.

According to Terry Ryder, the Director of Hotspotting, a majority of buyers from Sydney and Melbourne have directed their attention towards the Sunshine State due to its relatively affordable housing and appealing lifestyle, despite the conclusion of the Covid pandemic.

Similarly, regional Western Australia has regained popularity among buyers as the local economy has rebounded from the post-mining boom decline.

Tim Graham, the General Manager of Hotspotting, stated that even prior to the Covid pandemic, it was evident that a growing number of people were leaving major cities and gravitating towards smaller urban centers or regional areas.

“The media often attributed this phenomenon to the pandemic lockdowns, but in reality, this significant population shift has been underway for over a decade,” Mr. Graham emphasized. “Statistics reveal that Sydney and Melbourne have been experiencing population outflows to other parts of the country for 10 and five to six years respectively.”

Geraldton in Western Australia has witnessed a substantial increase in interest from buyers seeking an affordably priced coastal location, as stated by Mr. Ryder. He explained that as the Perth property market demonstrated strong recovery in 2020 and notable growth in 2021 and 2022, the municipality of Geraldton, situated four hours north of the capital city, experienced a corresponding surge.

During this period, Geraldton observed a significant rise in sales activity, partly due to the comparatively budget-friendly prices in contrast to Perth, with typical house prices ranging around the $300,000 mark. Additionally, the Greater Geraldton region has witnessed a steady decline in vacancy rates since 2016, which now stand at below one percent.

The municipal area of Toowoomba in regional Queensland has demonstrated exceptional performance in the Australian property market over recent years, according to Mr. Graham. As Australia’s second-largest inland city, Toowoomba’s prominence on the national stage has been amplified by substantial infrastructure development. Furthermore, the Toowoomba region possesses the second-largest economy in Queensland, outside of the metropolitan areas. The combination of these factors, along with the city’s affordability, low vacancy rates, and solid investment returns, has attracted a diverse range of property buyers, including first-time home buyers, individuals seeking a change of scenery, baby boomers, retirees, and investors.

Murray Bridge, located in South Australia, has captured attention on the property radar due to its robust local economy, proximity to Adelaide, affordable housing, and rural lifestyle, as noted by Mr. Ryder. Situated just under an hour by car from central Adelaide, Murray Bridge has benefited from the “Exodus to Affordable Lifestyle” trend, which has witnessed a significant number of urban dwellers relocating to regional cities. Additionally, Murray Bridge has enticed new residents with promising job opportunities, thanks to expansions and plans for increased operations in various agricultural, manufacturing, and tourism businesses. The city’s appeal is further enhanced by its low median house prices, which range in the low $300,000s and prove attractive to first-time home buyers.

Gladstone, an important regional center in Queensland, continues to recover from a mixed past, with falling vacancy rates, rising rents, increasing sales activity, and growing house prices, all aligning, according to Mr. Graham. This positive momentum observed in Gladstone’s property market during 2018 endured through the pandemic and beyond, defying the declining market trends experienced in many parts of the country in 2022. After progressing from its recovery phase in the mid- to late-2010s, Gladstone has witnessed strong price growth since 2019, driven by heightened sales activity. Despite a temporary setback caused by the pandemic, Gladstone now stands out as a market experiencing significant growth.

Mandurah in Western Australia has garnered attention from several property analysts due to sustained price growth and increasing volumes of building approvals, fueled by a rising interest from first-time home buyers. With population growth driven by its appealing seaside lifestyle, availability of affordable vacant land, and access to major employment hubs, Mandurah continues to attract numerous new residents.

The Hunter Valley region, renowned for its desirable lifestyle and robust economic prospects, remains poised for continued growth, as highlighted by Mr. Graham. The Hunter Valley attracts buyers seeking an enhanced quality of life and benefits from its proximity to Newcastle and Sydney, particularly in terms of affordability compared to these cities. Most towns in the Hunter Valley boast median house prices below $750,000, with four towns even falling below $600,000, a stark contrast to Sydney’s median house price of $1.2 million.

Mr. Ryder noted that the market in the Mitchell Shire, Victoria, has gained popularity since 2016. Towns such as Beveridge, Broadford, Kilmore, Seymour, and Wallan continue to attract strong buyer interest due to their affordability, appealing lifestyle, and convenient road and rail connections to Melbourne. Although there has been a slight easing in median house price growth in mid-2023, all towns still exhibit higher house prices compared to pre-Covid times, with positive growth in the past 12 months.

The steady performance of Mount Gambier in South Australia serves as an example of the ripple effect that can occur beyond major cities. The region offers affordable housing, lifestyle opportunities, and employment growth within a vibrant regional economy.

The Cairns property market demonstrated significant improvement in 2021 and 2022, and although it has reached its peak in 2023, it continues to thrive. According to Mr. Ryder, affordability and low vacancy rates have underpinned the Cairns property market for several years. As the city’s economy continues to strengthen, Cairns is primed for further growth, supported by a diverse range of sectors including healthcare, agriculture, education, defense, construction, mining, and information technology. The economy, once primarily reliant on tourism and sugar, is diversifying and expanding its industrial base.

The Lockyer Valley, positioned halfway between the Brisbane-Ipswich conurbation and Toowoomba, appears to be on a trajectory of continued growth, with a projected 40 percent population increase by 2041. The region’s rural appeal, affordable property options, and availability of large blocks contribute to its ongoing success.

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