Mandurah is Australia’s fastest growing city

Mandurah, on the southwestern coast of Western Australia, has been named as the fastest growing city in the country in the past 20 years.

According to research from Propertyology, Mandurah’s population has grown 91 per cent, to 99,272, over the past two decades, beating out regions such as the Surf Coast in Victoria and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

The population on Victoria’s Surf Coast has risen 85 per cent in the past 20 years to take second spot on the list of Australia’s 39 fastest growing cities.

Michell, also in Victoria, came in third (84 per cent), while Busselton in WA came in fourth (81 per cent) and the Sunshine Coast rounded out the top five (70 per cent). 

Propertyology Head of Research Simon Pressley said aside from organic growth through births, the main population growth drivers were lifestyle seekers, employment chasers, housing affordability, immigration policy and urban planning, including the development of new communities. 

“Mandurah’s 91 per cent population growth over the past 20 years is more than four times higher than Newcastle (21 per cent), Rockhampton (18 per cent), Wollongong (15 per cent) and Launceston (13 per cent),” Mr Pressley said.

“Sydney (-400,000), Melbourne (- 80,000), Adelaide (-70,000) and Darwin (-12,000) all produced internal migration declines over the last 20-years, while the regional city of Mandurah in Western Australia attracted a whopping net gain of 30,000.”

The total national population increased from 19.7 million to 26.6 million over the past two decades, ending June 2023, which equated to a growth rate of 35 percent.

Of the state capitals, Perth had the highest population growth rate at 53 per cent (16th fastest overall), followed by Brisbane at 52 per cent and Adelaide at 23 per cent. 

“Perth was the fastest growing capital city over the last two decades,” Mr Pressley said.

“The period was bookended by local property booms, although the middle period exposed the state’s high reliance export revenue and resulted in a prolonged property market downturn. 

“A sharp downturn in China’s purchase of WA commodities, particularly iron ore, was a major drag on Perth’s economy such that the median house price in 2020 had slipped back to the same value of 14-years earlier.”

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Mr Pressley said the research also showed high population growth didn’t necessarily equate to high price growth.

“While we do find great interest from reviewing population patterns, the patterns of the last 20 years is another major parcel of indisputable evidence, proof that there is no direct correlation between population growth rates and real estate capital growth rates,” he said.

“From the eight capital cities, Hobart produced the highest average annual capital growth rate over the past 20-years followed by Adelaide, yet they had the lowest population growth rate over the same period. 

“There are many similar examples among Australia’s 400 regional townships.”

In South Australia, the fastest growing city is Mount Barker (ranked sixth nationally), where the population has grown 68 per cent, while the municipality of Alexandrina is Australia’s 13th fastest growing.

“The character-filled townships of Strathalbyn and Goolwa are immersed in a tranquil rural setting and world class wineries such as Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale, are within,” Mr Pressley said.

“Seventy-five per cent of the region’s population growth over the past 20 years came from internal migration, including many medium-high income professionals who exercised a lifestyle choice to relocate away from Adelaide.”

Case study: A $940,000 reason not to obsess about population growth

Mr Pressley said Sydney’s population increased by 1,287,922 (31 percent) over the past 20 years, compared to Launceston’s population growth of just 13 per cent.

In that time, Launceston added just 8093 to its population, which was a figure Sydney added, on average, every six weeks. 

“The median price of a Sydney house went from $425,000 to $1,310,000 (an average annual rate of 5.8 percent) and median apartment prices from $355,000 to $750,000 (a very below par 3.8 percent),” Mr Pressley said.

“Launceston’s property market significantly outperformed Sydney, with an 8.8 percent average annual increase in house prices.

“For the same price of one (1) Sydney house in 2003, four (4) Launceston houses could have been purchased.

“Injecting the same amount of capital into Launceston real estate in 2003 would have added an extra $940,000 to one’s net worth than investing in Sydney over the 20-year period.

“The combined annual cash flow from the 4-standard houses in Launceston would have been significantly higher than the one Sydney property.”

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