Where can you find a property bargain? The cost of living in Sydney is inarguably high. As a comparison, house prices are approximately 23 per cent cheaper in Melbourne than in Sydney. Rent in Melbourne is estimated to be almost 22 per cent lower than in Sydney. However, in May this year, Sydney lost its title as Australia’s most expensive city. That was surprising. Sydney has long held this position and some of the populace seem to have revelled in it; worn it as a badge of honour. Even more surprising is that it was usurped by Byron Bay. This sleepy little coastal town, with a population a tad over 30,000, has the highest median house price in Australia and has become one of the most up-market residential areas on the Australian east coast due to the growth in multi-million dollar mansions. “Sydney has lost its title as Australia’s most expensive city.” The median house price in Byron Bay is $987,500, compared with Sydney’s $900,000. It’s worth doing your calculations on how much the repayment of a median priced Byron Bay Home will cost you. Who knows, the home of Australia’s premier Blues Festival, may be the perfect place to set up house. The Melbourne average median was $650,000 at the last quarter. The chart below illustrates median prices across the capital cities and territories. The above chart puts Byron Bay’s substantial growth into perspective. Perhaps it’s the lure of the Blues Festival driving prices higher. Byron sets the regional trend Byron Bay is leading a regional revolution in house prices: in 1998 its median price was $140,000 – a massive jump. According to Propertyology Head of Research Simon Pressley, “Byron’s median house price increased by a whopping 64 per cent over the past five calendar years, propelling it to the top of the national table.” Three major regional locations: Kiama and Wingecarribee, both in New South Wales, as well as Victoria’s Surf Coast are all ahead of Melbourne as the country’s most expensive regions. A rebound in commodity prices, more activity in the iron ore sector and strong coal sector are also assisting regional growth in areas reliant on mining. Does this mean that regional Australia, once the bastion for housing affordability, is no longer affordable? Not necessarily. You can still find bargains in regional Australia Whilst seven out of the top 10 most expensive major locations in Australia are in regional areas, you can still find bargains in regional Australia and the outer suburbs of our major cities. Victoria: In regional Victoria the median house price is $405,000, a dip of 0.9 per cent on the quarter. The clearance rate is 67.7 per cent. New South Wales: In NSW, you can pick up a house in Tamworth for an average of $240,000, or Cooma for $285,000. In Orange the median sale price is $394,000 and in Yass, it’s $430,000. If you want to get on the road to Gundagai, then you’ll only have to part with an average $230,000. Queensland: Further north in Queensland, you can pick up a Townsville home for $325,000, whilst mining reliant Mackie comes in at an affordable $308,750. This is a trend specific to most regional areas of Australia. Now, with looser lending criteria and interest rates predicted to drop further when the Reserve Bank of Australian meets next week, it’s worth taking a look at houses beyond the city limits if you want to break into the market or even downsize. Certainly, you’re borrowing power in these circumstances will be strengthened, along with your ability to make extra payments. If you don’t mind travelling outside of the major cities, an outer city lifestyle may just be your cup of tea and biscuits. Compare top home loan products from Australia’s banks, credit unions, building societies and non-bank lenders. The information contained on this web site is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. If you or someone you know is in financial stress, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.