This is what Sydney is going to look like in 2046


Like many getting-a-bit-long-in-the-tooth Sydneysiders, I’ve increasingly been having recurring daydreams about selling a place at Bondi or in the inner west and trading it for a mansion at Maroochydore (or sometimes it’s a mooring at Mooloolaba).

Probably about once a fortnight I have these fantasises, on average, I reckon.

And then reality bites.

I wake up and find that Infrastructure Australia (IA) has released another report, which always brings me back to earth and reminds me why I invested in inner-Sydney property in the first place.

Future cities Mooring At Mooloolaba

As ever, IA’s Future Cities report presents a range of scenarios.

There’s a decentralised scenario which incorporates acres of building and hundreds of thousands of new homes in the south-west.

And then there’s a centralised scenario where everyone crams like crazy into zones close to the Central Business District (CBD), and to a lesser extent Parramatta.

And then there’s the medium-density scenario, which is a realistic mixture of the two, incorporating population growth across the city and on balance the most likely outcome.

The scenarios have one thing in common: none of them envisages a Sydney in 2046 with a population of under 7.34 million.


Although people are expected to live all over Sydney, the share of employment will remain heavily skewed to the CBD and city fringe, and to a secondary extent Parramatta.


And there’s a great deal of consideration of how people will get around with millions of extra people in essentially the same amount of space (as an investor, I’ve always gone for train links to the City or walking distance from the Sydney CBD).


Nobody can predict the future, but one thing I will hang my hat on is a massive ongoing demand for rentals close to the middle of Sydney.

From the horse’s mouth…

‘Between 2017 and 2046, Australia’s population is projected to increase by 11.8 million people.

That’s equivalent to adding a new city, roughly the size of Canberra, each year for the next 30 years.   

About 75% of this growth will occur in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.’

Population growth is a central driver of this change.

In the next 30 years, Sydney’s population is projected to increase by 2.4 million people, growing to be a city of 7.4 million.

Over the same period, Melbourne is projected to grow by 2.7 million people, to be a city of 7.3 million.

Between now and 2046, Brisbane is projected to grow by 1.6 million people and Perth by 2.2 million people, delivering cities of just under 4 million and 4.3 million, respectively.

This means the Brisbane and Perth of tomorrow will become cities the size of Melbourne and Sydney today.

While Melbourne and Sydney will become cities comparable to the current size of some of the world’s most significant urban economies, operating more like the Hong Kong, New York and London of today.’


Metropole Property Strategists


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Pete is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. Using a long term approach to building businesses, investing in equities, & owning a portfolio he achieved financial independence at the age of 33. Visit his blog

'This is what Sydney is going to look like in 2046' have 4 comments

    Avatar for Pete Wargent

    July 29, 2019 Ben

    On the issue of climate change, I don’t think it’ll slow up Australian cities. The projected inundations are a small % of these cities, and it is possible to refit/ water proof structures. The most likely effect in my view is food price hikes and food scarcity- we are already seeing record droughts- with predictions of far worse in 30 years. All of these things are planning and engineering challenges which Australia is well poised to solve- assuming there is political will. Also glad to see Adelaide is off everyone’s radar as usual- we want to keep it all for ourselves and keep it civilized.


      July 29, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Yes Climate Change will affecta number of things – but it’s unlikley to swallow up our beachfront properties


    Avatar for Pete Wargent

    July 29, 2019 Lyn Currie

    I can’t help wondering if in fact this comment will be published. The update published above claims to be “independent unbiased property advice”. The scenario completely ignores the physical and social effects of climate change, which I find disturbing. If this piece is supposed to be based on likely futures rather than a agenda to promote investment by any means, it should draw on the same projections that insurers use. The fact is that long before 2046, if we continue as seems likely, most waterfront properties will be virtually uninsurable, not to mention unsaleable. In addition, social disruption on a global scale will make these “predictions” about property investments appropriate only for the gullible.


      July 29, 2019 Michael Yardney

      of course I’ll publish your comment Lyn and while I definitely believe in climate change, I don’t agree that most waterfront properties will be uninsurable


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