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Our Top Cities for Affordable Housing

July 28, 2021

We’ve got it good here in Australia. Unparalleled wildlife, pristine beaches, metropolitan living, world-class cuisine, award-winning vineyards—the list could go on ad infinitum. Our cities have topped lists year after year as the most liveable in the world and we can see why—there’s a distinction in nature and urban offerings while still sharing the same spirited culture. We love being able to have our pick of places to call home, all dependent on the type of living we’re looking for. 

But because every city is so different, some outrank others in costs of living. Sydney, for one, has become the most expensive place to live here, hitting an average record high of $1.3m in housing this year. But if you’re willing to forgo the glamour of Bondi, take a look at other fantastic cities that still offer a high standard of living while being a little gentler on the wallet. 

Adelaide

This coastal capital of Southern Australia came in strong at #3 on the world ranking this year. The lower housing prices will definitely be a draw here, with a median comparable to Cairns (listed below!) at $465,000. It costs about 20% less to live here in comparison to Sydney. Local public transport is considerably cheaper and very efficient—you’re looking at paying $100 a month as opposed to above $200 in Sydney. 

With a strong student population drawn in by the University of Adelaide, the city is young and vibrant with a constant array of happenings to keep you entertained throughout the year. Not to mention the objectively stunning landscape of the region. You’re spoilt for choice with several outstanding vineyards for getaways, namely valleys like Clare Valley, Barossa and McLaren Vale. And just a ferry away (and a two-hour drive) is the magnificent Kangaroo Island, home to dense nature parks and wild animals. Unlike the crowded beaches in Sydney and the dull sands of St Kilda, Adelaide has gorgeous, quieter shores. You get your pick of the litter between our personal favourites like Henley, Brighton and Semaphore—a little drive away. 

You’re also at a thriving cultural hub, with an art scene supported by some of the country’s major arts and culture institutions. There’s always some kind of festival on, whether it’s food, film or farming. The dining scene is rich, with little nooks of bars along Peel Street to rooftop cocktail lounges with sprawling views of the city. 

And of course, there’s the weather. The kind that’s not too humid, not rainy and grey, but temperate, sunny and reliable throughout the day. We don’t play favourites but this city definitely ranks high in our hearts. 

Just take a look at this charming 3-bed tucked away on a quiet street. 

Cairns

It’s all laid-back and easygoing in Cairns. An unassuming city but slowly making its name partly from its ever-expanding inventory of cool bars and food haunts. Over the years, it’s drawn in crowds both local and international to explore the mystery of the Great Barrier Reef. But other gifts of Mother Nature like its lush parks and the Cairns Esplanade, with turquoise swimming lagoons, are just the tip of the iceberg in this natural wonderland. 

What makes it affordable? While it’s recently received an influx of new people from the southern states, it is slightly less affordable than it used to be. Still, you’re looking at a median price for housing at $490,000—much lower in comparison to Melbourne’s $753,000 average. Utilities like electricity, heating and water are also at a lower range. 

Suburbs like Redlynch are on the radar as they are just a 20-minute drive from the city, but still close enough to schools and offices. Ideal for nature-lovers, the area is surrounded by mountains, hiking trails and parks perfect for families who want to live away from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

Within the city, Edge Hill/Whitfield are the most sought after. Many flock to live in an apartment by the lagoons which is also close to a number of wonderful restaurants and cafes. If you’re thinking about making a seachange, this is worthwhile considering!

This house we just love. It wonderfully encapsulates the intrigue of Cairns living. And imagine this being just 10 minutes from the city centre. 

Perth

If you missed it, our weekly roundup last week compiled our favourite Perth listings. With its wonderful weather, surrounding landscapes and lively atmosphere, it is high on our list of liveable cities. 

The size of it, for one, is not too big and not too small. Compared to the larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne, Perth’s population is around the 2 million mark and you don’t bump into people even during the midday CBD rush. It’s mostly walkable, with main landmarks, museums and restaurants just a stroll away from each other. 

It’s worth noting that this city has gone through one of the biggest housing and population growths in Australia this year, now around a median of $495,000. And while those prices are increasing, other costs like essential goods and services have steadily decreased over the years, making it a solid contender as one of the country’s best places to live. 

From meals at casual restaurants to childcare and fitness memberships, these other elements are also more affordable in comparison to Sydney. One of our favourite suburbs is Churchlands, which has lush, leafy streets, and sits not too far from the beach so families can spend summers close to the water. Also Shelley, a bit unassuming but surrounded by nice parks and playgrounds along the Canning River. 

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And if you’re looking to buy, this quaint and simple 1-bed, 1-bath gets you well situated to begin your adventure in a new city. 

Hobart

More and more people are flocking to the Tasmian capital and we’re not surprised. The city is safe, affordable and a playground for nature enthusiasts. While this also means a rise in the housing market prices, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Hobart is an all-around great place to live. Coupled with how it handled decisions related to the pandemic, many tree and sea-changers were attracted to it as a safe destination. Even grocery shopping is a bit cheaper in Hobart, along with dining out and of course, rent!

What we love about this city is that it has its quiet nature but also its booming arts and culture scene, supported by one of the world’s most renowned festivals, Dark Mofo. It’s making a name for itself in the cocktail scene as well, with fun, mixology-centered bars that draw in younger crowds. Galleries are aplenty, featuring blossoming local artists. 

There are quite a few interesting suburbs worth visiting depending on your scene. Beginning with North Hobart, close to the city and the busy restaurant strip. This is a top choice for many because of its central location and the convenience of nearby parking. 

Other good suburbs are Goodwood—located just over a 10-minute drive from the city. You’re in a quieter area here, but close to parklands and schools. An excellent option for families. 

Bellerive is stretched along the shoreline of the Bellerive Esplanade towards Howrah. It’s a close distance to the CBD—around a 10-minute drive, so you have all the convenience of living near the centre without the price tag. It’s loved for its beautiful sandy banks, after which it was named. If you’re looking to be close to the sea, have a poke around the neighbourhood and discover its charms. 

Check out this plot of land for sale. You can begin building your dream house right here. 


The Australian property market is ever-evolving so keep yourself updated with Soho’s news. We’re also chasing the latest insights and tips to help you make the best possible decision on your future home. So if you’re interested in any of the cities we mentioned, have a browse through our listings or download our app for the full Soho experience.

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