Top 20 regional towns for first home buyers

Many first home buyers are turning away from dense urban centres—eyeing affordable and improved housing options in the bush or by the beach.

According to a recent survey by Me Bank and Ethos Urban, two-thirds of first home buyers were more likely to consider buying in a regional area with more people working from home and companies decentralising operations.

A shortlist of more than 80 towns were ranked on categories most relevant to someone working from home, such as internet quality, health and education facilities, the town’s character and vibrancy, physical attractiveness of the area, population growth, employment rate and proximity to a major population centre.

“We did a thorough search right around the nation, looking for towns with just the right mix of lifestyle, amenities, housing market and natural beauty,” ME Bank consulting demographer Chris McNeill said.

“With working from home on the rise, now is a perfect time to escape to the country, not only to improve lifestyle, but save money and buy a first home.”

Australia’s best regional towns for first home buyers

19MullumbimbyNew South Wales
18Port FairyVictoria
16Airlie BeachQueensland
14NuriootpaSouth Australia
13TanundaSouth Australia
12Byron BayNew South Wales
Source: ME Bank, Ethos Urban

Armed with ultra low mortgage rates, first home buyers are increasingly shunning urban centres, settling instead where they can live at a safe distance from their neighbours.

Regional markets have also proven to be more insulated from economic shocks, relying less on international trade.

According to ME’s report, Nairne, located in the Adelaide Hills, was found to be the best regional town in Australia for first home buyers, followed closely by sister town Mount Barker in fourth position.

McNeill said the town had stood out due to its good access to hospitals and schools, surrounding wine-growing country and heritage streets that give it a “lost to time” quality.

“A boom in new property developments in the town also means affordable modern housing is attainable for first home buyers.”

Victoria performed very strongly overall, with eight towns featured, followed by New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

“It’s no surprise Victoria fares so well,” ME Bank consulting demographer Chris McNeill said. “So many Victorian towns are within striking distance of Melbourne, or a major regional city, which gives first home buyers in these areas great job flexibility and access to amenities. They also boast amazing bush and beach lifestyles, without the crazy New South Wales prices.”

The far north coast of New South Wales was also well represented with Lennox Head, Byron Bay and Mullumbimby all making the list.

Queensland’s modest showing and the absence of Tasmania and the territories suggests that each state’s response towards the pandemic has meant less of an urgency from buyers to withdraw from central locations.

Written: 23 December 2020, Updated: 7 December 2020

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