State of Australian cities

State of Australian cities

The government’s State of Australian Cities report for 2015 revealed some interesting demographic and social trends.

The report found that population growth in recent years is becoming increasingly capital city focussed over time, and this is projected to become even more so the case over the next five decades.


In fact, just the four most populous capital cities plus Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and a handful of other conurbations have accounted for the overwhelming bulk of population growth.


The other cities and “peri-urban locations” which experienced some population growth were as follows:


Projecting trends forward, the government expects the capital city share of population growth to continue increasing relentlessly for the next half century, from about two thirds to more than 80 per cent by 2061:

“The majority of Australia’s future population growth is expected to occur in and around its capital cities…Australia’s population living in capital cities will more than double by 2061”.


The projections show population growth expanding rapidly so that by 2061 several capital cities will have become very large indeed, including Sydney (8.5 million), Melbourne (8.6 million), Brisbane (5.8 million), and Perth (5.5 million).

By contrast the respective populations of the smaller cities aren’t expected to change all that much in absolute terms.


House price trends

The State of Australian Cities report notes that for regional cities “overall house prices have not recovered strongly since the financial crisis”. 


This mirrors quite closely what we have seen in Britain, with house prices rising strongly almost everywhere due to a debt binge broadly from around 2000 to 2008, in Australia’s case spurred on by a once-in-a-century mining boom.

But in most regional markets a long period of stagnation has followed since.

You don’t really need data series to demonstrate this point – just read the personal experiences of property investors on chat forums and their collective frustration is more than evident.


It’s been fairly well documented that house price growth has been strong in the largest capital cities, but house price growth has been far from uniform even within the larger capitals.

Research conducted on behalf of the Valuer General concluded that price growth continues to be considerably stronger in the suburbs located close to the Central Business District.


Indeed, research papers by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), AHURI and others have all arrived at the same conclusion.

Concludes the government report:

“Inner urban regions and municipalities such as the Boorondara, inner, northern and eastern statistical districts and the inner Melbourne districts are pulling away from price growth rates of the middle and outer ring regions. The differences mean residents of outer urban regions are likely to be increasingly constrained in their ability to move to inner regions.”


Source: State of Australian Cities 2014-15

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Pete Wargent is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. He’s achieved financial freedom at the age of 33 - as detailed in his book ‘Get a Financial Grip – A Simple Plan for Financial Freedom’. Pete now manages his investment portfolio, travels and works as a consultant in the finance industry from time to time. Visit his blog

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