Most affordable places to live
IT'S no surprise to most Australians that the cost of living varies greatly from one city, state or territory to another.
But exactly which places are the most affordable when it comes to everyday expenses including rent, fuel, groceries, transport, utilities and education? And which ones will burn a hole in your pocket faster than the others?
The latest report from Numbeo, a cost of living website which collates prices of goods and services from hundreds of cities around the world, shows that almost everything is cheaper in Hobart compared to other major cities nationwide.
It also confirmed what Sydneysiders already knew: it's the most expensive place to live in the country. Melbourne, Darwin and Perth trail closely behind.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said the government's priorities - including the Australian mining sector - were out of whack. "I wish they'd just start talking about everyday Aussies in terms of cost of living," he said on Wednesday.
While Sydney ranked 32 in the list of the world's most expensive cities, it was the 16th most expensive city in terms of rent, according to Numbeo.
Sydney has this year risen to number 32 in this year's Cost of Living Index, up from 41 last year, according to Numbeo.
Melbourne rose to 64, up from 77, while Adelaide, Cairns, Hobart and Canberra also moved up the list to 58, 69, 82 and 103 respectively.
Only Perth (56), Darwin (68) and Brisbane (93) have become more affordable, according to the site, which ranks the results based on information provided by thousands of residents.
RENT, CHILDCARE AND RESTAURANTS
A one-bedroom, city centre apartment costs an average of $2681.48 per month in Sydney.
That's compared with Melbourne ($1767.60), Canberra ($1733.26), Brisbane ($1726.13), Adelaide ($1705.67), Gold Coast ($1568.92), Darwin ($1524.35), Perth ($1523.41) and Hobart ($1208.33). Those with kids can more than double their outgoing expenses if they live in Sydney with the cost of sending one child to childcare full-time for a month about $2038.27. Child care is even more expensive on the Gold Coast ($2250) but significantly cheaper in Adelaide ($1600), Melbourne ($1478), Brisbane ($1243), Perth ($1214), Darwin ($1,200), Canberra ($1168) and Hobart ($683.33), according to the site.
The data also showed that costs including groceries, rent and restaurant prices were most expensive in Sydney and Darwin, while cities like Hobart, Cairns and the Gold Coast had some of the cheapest.
COFFEE, PETROL, UTILITIES
But not all is lost for Sydney - while residents might be down thousands of dollars in rent, they're up an entire buck or two when it comes to coffee. Sydney is home to country's cheapest hot drinks with a regular cappuccino costing about $3.90, compared with the highest median price for the same item in Darwin, at $4.75.
The Northern Territory capital might be small in size - with a total population of about 250,000 people - but it's also home to some of the highest prices for fuel and utilities nationwide.
The national average for unleaded petrol is 138.9c per litre. But in the NT, prices soar above the rest, with a median price of 183.9c per litre in the troubled town of Tennant Creek, 176.9c per litre in Alice Springs and 150.2c per litre in the capital of Darwin, according to 2018 NT government figures. The median price for monthly utilities - including power and water - in Darwin is $332.80. That's compared with the cheapest average of $181.20 per month in Perth. Even a meal at McDonalds will cost about an extra $2 than in other states.
MILK, BREAD AND BEER
The Gold Coast is also where you can find the country's cheapest bread, at $2.12 a loaf. Brisbane follows closely behind ($2.14), with Sydney selling the staple food at the highest average rate of $2.80. And if you're up for a good time at the lowest price possible, the Gold Coast is also where it's at, with the nation's cheapest in-restaurant domestic beer ($5.75). That's compared to the most expensive average of $8 in both Melbourne and Darwin.
For the more straight-laced, Hobart could be a better option, boasting the cheapest milk at $1.11 for one litre. In Perth, the same product costs consumers about $1.59 - the highest average in Australia.
But the most isolated city in the world makes up in electricity prices what it lacks in cartons of milk, offering the cheapest average price for utilities in the nation. The average monthly cost of a power and water bill in a 85m2 apartment in Perth is $181.2. That's compared to
Darwin ($332.80), Adelaide ($297.95), Melbourne (214.82), Sydney ($176.69), Brisbane ($212.60), Hobart ($236.99), Canberra ($184.73) and the Gold Coast ($184.41).
Hobart is the most southern of Australia's capital cities, its harbour is the second-deepest natural port in the world, making it a popular destination for boaties. It's also one of the cheapest capital cities in the country although wages are also below the national average. Hobart is also known for its arts and culture, its majestic scenery such as Mt Wellington, picturesque waterways including the Derwent River and rich cafe and restaurant scene. With a median house price of $402,000, strong capital growth and good long- term projections, the area presents a solid market.
Even suburbs that are located within less than 2km from the CBD, including North Hobart and South Hobart, with median houses prices of $582,000 and $631,000, respectively, are relatively affordable compared to cities like Sydney, where the median house price is upwards of $1 million and Melbourne where it has pushed past $840,000.
In Victoria, households are shelling out almost $75,000 a year on general living expenses, a major study of spending habits reveals.
The 2017 Household Expenditure Survey found that in 2015-16 essentials cost $843 of the average $1430 Victorians spent on goods and services each week.
Housing costs - on rent, mortgages, rates and home-and-contents insurance - were the biggest drain ($257), the Herald Sun reported.
Food, including meals out and non-alcoholic drinks, cost $244, and transport - driving, taxi fares, and train, tram and bus fares - cost $218.
A buoyant Canberra housing market is leading to healthy long-term investment options for savvy homebuyers, according to RiskWise Property Research.
While the Sydney market goes flat, many Sydney-based investors and buyers' agents are looking to Canberra - which has a median house price of about $750,000 - as a solid long-term property market that delivers both capital growth and solid rental return.
Less than 300km southwest of Sydney, Canberra has enjoyed solid capital growth of 23 per cent over the past five years and 10 per cent in the past 12 months.
RiskWise Property Research CEO Doron Peleg said it was a trend set to continue.
"This will be driven by ongoing population growth due to the strength of the local labour market and its growing status as a city of choice for a growing number of Australians," Mr Peleg said.
"Canberra is a rapidly expanding city with a stable property market that offers relatively affordable housing (in house-to-income terms). In addition, ongoing infrastructure projects, such as the Canberra Light Rail Network, will bring significant benefits to the area."
An hour's drive from the state capital Brisbane, the Gold Coast is the sixth largest city in Australia and is forecast to have 1.2 million residents living there by 2050, according to demographer Bernard Salt. The region has a stable property market that offers relatively affordable beachside suburbs, such as Miami which has a median house price of $749,000, according to industry experts.
CoreLogic's regional market update to December 2017 places the median house price at $634,423, while the median unit price is $411,229.
RiskWise CEO Doron Peleg said that despite gaining infamy for violent incidences and drunken behaviour in Surfers Paradise, the Gold Coast was one of the most popular destinations for both owner-occupiers and investors in southeast Queensland.
"It has beautiful beachside and waterside suburbs, an unrivalled lifestyle, good infrastructure, a large number of well-off residents and locals who describe the Gold Coast as 'heaven for children'," Mr Peleg said.
"The Gold Coast has a stable property market that offers both affordability and excellent access to superb beach and coastal areas, and that is very appealing to buyers."
But there are fears about what will become of the glitter strip's property market once the Commonwealth Games, set to start this month, are done and dusted.
Collier's Gold Coast International director Darrell Irwin said property market indicators showed the region had a "healthy sector" that would survive the exodus when the curtain closes on the Games.
"The Games has brought forward infrastructure investment in projects such as the light rail construction, and upgrades to the aquatic centre and Carrara Stadium, which have helped fuel demand across the board in the residential, commercial office, retail, and industrial sectors," he said.
"We've seen commercial office vacancy rates continue to fall over the last three years to the current level of 10.3 per cent as reported in the most recent Property Council of Australia figures.
"With no new office buildings under construction, we expect to see that vacancy rate fall further.
"Similarly in the industrial market, there's been strong demand, a falling vacancy rate and limited land supply."
Commercial hot spots include Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise and Robina - with falling vacancy rates in these precincts, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.
Industrial hot spots are Arundel, Molendinar and Yatala - driven by rising land and building values.