John McGrath on the most affordable suburbs

Property ObserverApril 5, 20160 min read

With affordability being such a hot topic of late, a new report from CoreLogic RP Data on the most affordable suburbs in every capital city was timely, says property expert John McGrath, even though many are on the outskirts.

In fact, in the case of NSW, four out of the top five cheapest suburbs are actually on the Central Coast, which is increasingly being seen as an extension of metro Sydney and becoming a popular choice for first home buyers willing to commute, McGrath wrote in his Switzer blog. 

"However, these lists do remind us that there are affordable locations in or very close to every capital city," he says. 

"Here’s another angle on the whole affordability debate. Prices aren’t going to change (at least not much) but there are things you can do yourself to improve your own ‘affordability’."

The best possible thing to do is take advantage of historically low interest rates, he advises. The interest on your home mortgage will always be your greatest expense as a first home owner, so low interest rates can make a huge difference. For further security and sleep-at-night comfort, lock in those rates with a fixed loan for 3-5 years

Another option could be considering a second job.

"Think outside the square about what else you could do – maybe from home, to pick up some extra cash to contribute to your deposit. Alternatively, if you feel you deserve a pay rise at work, ask for one!        

"Just be prepared to explain why you deserve it."  

Compromise on property type

  • Consider an apartment, townhouse or villa over a house; and
  • If you really want a house, consider buying an original home that you can renovate over time  

Talk to a broker who can shop around for you, as lenders have vastly different criteria for assessing borrowing power – in some cases, the amount lenders are willing to give to the same candidate can vary by tens of thousands of dollars 

Compromise on your desired location

  • Look at areas immediately surrounding your target suburb – you might be surprised how much less you’ll pay just next door; and 
  • Consider cheaper suburbs in the same city that offer a similar lifestyle. For example, if you enjoy living close to the beach, do some research on other beach areas. For example, compare these median prices for one bedroom apartments in these popular Sydney beach suburbs: 

         - Bondi $740,000
         - Manly $656,500 
         - Dee Why $550,000
         - Cronulla $480,000


What is probably most notable here is the $100,000-plus difference between Manly and Dee Why. These are both Northern Beaches suburbs with their own beaches and established shopping and dining precincts and they’re only 10-15 minutes apart by car. 

Cheapest capital city suburbs (Houses)

New South  Wales

Spencer (Gosford area) $342,372 

San Remo (Wyong area) $371,669 

Mannering Park (Wyong area) $390,821  


Melton (Melton area) $265,335

Melton South (Melton area) $280,966

Millgrove (Yarra Ranges) $294,664


Russell Island (Redland area) $225,655 

Dinmore (Ipswich area) $227,512

Leichhardt (Ipswich area) $227,658

South Australia

Davoren Park (Playford area) $179,954

Elizabeth North (Playford area) $180,191

Smithfield Plains (Playford area) $192,237

Western Australia

Medina (Kwinana area) $276,935

Calista (Kwinana area) $308,061 

Parmelia (Kwinana area) $309,380


Herdsmans Cove (Brighton area) $137,724

Gagebrook (Brighton area) $140,650

Clarendon Vale (Clarence area) $154,642 

Northern Territory

Moulden (Palmerston area) $465,257

Gray (Palmerston area) $492,119

Woodroffe (Palmerston area) $511,911


Charnwood (ACT) $400,119

Ngunnawal (ACT) $435,859

Holt (ACT) $442,124

*Source: CoreLogic RP Data – only suburbs with at least 10 sales over the 12 months to January 2016 are included 


Property Observer

Housing Affordability
John Mcgrath
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