This is where the “smart” Australians live


How clever are you?

Where do you live?

In a recent column in the Australian demographer Bernard Salt wrote about the correlation between levels of education and where we live. Australia people

He explained largest concentration of “smart” or postgraduate workers (around 7.2% of our workforce) is found in our biggest cities of:

  • Sydney (226,000),
  • Melbourne (185,000),
  • Brisbane (70,000),
  • Perth (55,000) and
  • Adelaide (36,000).

What does this mean to me as a property investor?

Salt explains that there is a direct and powerful correlation between education and income earned – just look at the graph below taken from 2016 Census data.

And of course income earned in Australia translates ­directly into the capacity to buy real estate and indirectly into ­demand for local retail, office and industrial space.

Australia the clever country
Source: The Australian
Salt break it down even further:
  • For the 336,000 Australian workers who only ever attained a Year 9 education (that is, leaving at age 15), the highest median ­income earned is $43,000 at the age of 31. Longevity in a job with this level of education doesn’t translate into income growth later in life. These are manual or repetitive jobs that command the lowest levels of ­remuner­ation regardless of the length of employment.
  • At the opposite end of the education spectrum are 727,000 workers who have some form of postgraduate qualification such as an MBA, for example. This ­cohort of highly skilled workers record their peak median income of $111,000 at the age of 52. Interestingly, workers with a basic bachelor of arts or a diploma ­degree earn more than postgraduate qualified workers up to the age of 33. It takes some time for post-grad qualified workers to monetise their investment in further education.

So where do these smartypants live?  

Australia’s best educated workers favour capital cities, university towns, public administration towns and lifestyle communities.

The largest concentration of smart or postgraduate workers is found in our biggest cities of Sydney (226,000), Melbourne (185,000), Brisbane (70,000), Perth (55,000) and Adelaide (36,000).

But in Canberra this proportion is 13.4 per cent, while in Sydney it is 11.4 per cent.

The smartest boutique city in Australia isn’t Canberra but ­rather the university town of Armidale in NSW, where 11.9 per cent of the workforce has a postgraduate qualification.

What about the other end of the spectrum?

Salt says the poorest representation of postgraduate workers is in Kempsey, Murray Bridge, Esperance, Moe-Newborough and Portland, where the proportion of the workforce with post-grad qualifications never ­exceeds 1.5 per cent.

These towns also have a high proportion of the workforce who only com­pleted Year 9.

Alice Springs and Darwin, for example, both have twice the proportion of workers (6.3 per cent and 6.8 per cent with post-grad qualifications than do places like Karratha (3.0 per cent) and Goulburn (3.1 per cent) where the work is more manual.

Towns with the highest and lowest share of postgraduates in the workforce

Where the smart people live

Read more : The Australian 


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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who help their clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and one of Australia's 50 most influential Thought Leaders. His opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit

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