How Australia’s cities are changing: which are richer, trendier, ageing, battling or more family-friendly

Someone is born, someone dies, someone moves here and someone leaves—with net growth of one new Australian every 80 seconds or so. 

But not all people are the same and not all growth is evenly distributed.

Roy Morgan Research has integrated new suburb-by-suburb (SA2) population estimates from the ABS into Helix Personas, identifying exactly how many of which types of people our major cities are gaining.

Look what happened to Sydney

Over the last three years, Sydney gained around 230,000 people (a total growth of 5%).aust population

82,544 of these new Sydneysiders are high-income, educated and successful home-owners in the Leading Lifestyles community (up 5%, in line with Sydney’s norm).

Already well-loaded with such types, many of Sydney’s fastest-growing suburbs—such as Lidcombe, Ryde, Killara and Kellyville, and those across the northern beaches—are those housing Leading Lifestyle residents.

Overall, Sydney’s growth was fairly even across Helix communities, with each growing by within 1% or so of the city-wide norm.

And Melbourne:

However Melbourne’s biggest proportional growth was among two distinct types of people: high-spending hipsters and outer suburban young parents.

Growth hotspots like the CBD, Richmond, St Kilda, Brunswick and Footscray added 62,876 hip and high-spending young Metrotechs to the city, (an 8% increase) while suburbs including Craigieburn, South Morang, Caroline Springs and Cranbourne are now home to an additional 69,180 young couples starting out in Today’s Families (the fast-growing community in Melbourne, up 11%).

Melbourne also now has 62,678 more residents Getting By, courtesy of high growth in suburbs like Narre Warren and Tarneit.


Perth is the fastest-growing city overall, with 10% more residents than in 2011.

As in Melbourne, Today’s Families are Perth’s fastest-growing group with 56,268 new members (up 15%) in high-growth suburbs including Ellenbrook, Success and Canning Vale East.

Perth also gained more Aussie Achievers and Golden Years than any other city, in areas including Forrestfield, High Wycombe and Wanneroo, and Gosnells, Armadale and the seaside retirement haven Mandurah, respectively.


Growing more slowly were Brisbane (up 6% overall) and Adelaide (up 3%).

In each city, areas and their residents Getting By had the highest proportional growth, of 9% (21,299 people) and 4% (10,245) respectively.

Across these five cities the total number of Battlers has grown by 55,244, surpassing a million.  

Growth since 2011 in the number of residents by Helix Community

Helix Personas, ABS Population Estimates June 2011 – June 2014

For more information, see maps of growth suburbs across our capital cities, based on ABS SA2 estimates, or learn more about Helix Personas.

John Ellenberger, Helix Program Manager, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Where someone lives says a lot about who they are. As some suburbs boom, others grow steadily and others stay static or decline.

This inevitably changes the overall nature of the city.”

“By inputting the latest ABS data at a suburb-by-suburb (SA2) level, Helix Personas is able to give businesses, advertisers and governments a tangible perspective on how markets are changing.
Within these seven Helix communities are 56 personas, each individually calibrated to reflect population growth.

“For example, in Sydney the fastest-growing individual Persona is Status Matters, high-earning yet bargain-hunting young parents living in huge houses filled with the latest gadgets in places like Kellyville. They want to appear as though they have the best of everything—but chances are the massive new TV is a ‘Panasonik’ or ‘Sonee’ scored through a Groupon deal.
There are 14% more of these people in Sydney today than there were in 2011—clearly the sort of thing local marketers, retailers, media buyers and owners simply cannot afford not to know.”

Want more of this type of information?


Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who create wealth for their clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and his opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit

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