Brisbane vs Sydney: Compare the property markets

It’s no big secret that the cost of property in Sydney is sky-high compared to Brisbane, but with a higher average net salary and much higher rental prices too, which market is best for you? Whether you’re an investor, looking to retire or searching for your dream family home, there’s a lot to consider when comparing Brisbane and Sydney. A property market comparison between the two biggest East Coast markets goes a lot deeper than just average house prices, with housing affordability, population growth, investor regulations and infrastructure development also contributing significantly to the way the market functions and the predictions for the future. We weigh in on all of this to help you decide whether the Brisbane or Sydney market is the best place for you to splash your cash and jump on (or up) the property ladder.

According to the latest Property Clock report by Heron Todd White, the Brisbane market is currently starting to recover, while Sydney remains a declining market for both apartments and houses. Within this quarter, Core Logic reports dwelling values in Sydney fell by 2%, while Brisbane recorded a less-significant fall of 1.4%, although this rate of decline is slowing significantly in both capital cities. The slower rate of decline is also visible with higher auction clearance rates in both states this quarter, with that trend expected to continue with a renewed confidence in the market taking hold.


Brisbane properties are significantly cheaper than properties in Sydney. The median dwelling value in Brisbane is currently $484,882, while Sydney is sitting at $776,135. Rental prices in Brisbane are also around 40% less than those in Sydney. The latest data, from SQM Research, shows rental vacancy rates in Brisbane dropped continuously through 2018, and, come the close of the year, was sitting at 2.8% — down from 3.4% this time 12 months ago. This is caused in part by higher-than-ever interstate migration rates, with Aussies fleeing the pricey real estate markets down south. Per room, Brisbane rental rates are currently sitting at $170 per week, up just $7 from Q1 2017. In Sydney, rent per room comes in at $267 per week, nearly 65% more than Brisbanites are paying. 

For more information on general cost of living and affordability comparison, Budget Direct has a great Cost of Living comparison tool.


Sydney remains Australia’s most populated city with an estimated population of over 5 million people.  The metropolitan area has about 650 suburbs that sprawl about 70 km to the west, 40 km to the north, and 60 to the south. By the end of 2019, Sydney is expected to reach a population of 5.8 million, while Brisbane is forecast to reach 2.256 million. While the main source of population growth in Sydney (up to 70%) is from overseas migration, Brisbane’s source of growth is more evenly spread across natural increase, internal migration and international migration. That said, overseas migration does still account for 38% of the population change in the River City. Projection by the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates Sydney will reach between 6 million and 6.4 million by 2027, with Brisbane expected to hit the 3 million mark within that same time frame.


Brisbane is currently experiencing the biggest infrastructure spend since the 2011 flood recovery, with a new runway at the airport, a new international cruise terminal, the Cross River Rail Project and the impressive Queens Wharf all in the works at the moment. In Sydney, there are also a few key projects currently under development which are expected to have an influence on the property market, both in the CBD and the surrounding suburbs. The City of Sydney is expected to spend almost $200 million in the next financial year across major infrastructure projects. This includes the large-scale renewal of Green Square, a new city-wide energy efficiency program, an extensive light rail project and plenty of new cycleways and bicycle-related works that will improve connectivity and reduce the strain on public transport throughout Sydney. For both Brisbane and its southern neighbour, all eyes are on the future.

Written: 5 July 2019

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