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Where Is Australia’s Fastest Growing City?

Where Is Australia’s Fastest Growing City?
May 8, 2024 Propertyology Head of Research and REIA Hall of Famer, Simon Pressley

It has evolved from being this country’s 114th biggest in 1954 to become Australia’s 24th largest city.

With a population growth rate of 91 percent over the last 20-years, this little-known regional city in Western Australia is the fastest growing city in the country.

From a lifestyle perspective, Mandurah has quite a resemblance to the Central Coast in NSW and Noosa in south-east Queensland.

And the cherry-on-top is that real estate in this major regional city in Western Australian comes at a small fraction of the cost.

The current median house price of $530,000 is approximately $100,000 less than Perth’s and all other capital cities.

Located 1-hour south of Perth, the once sleepy seaside town of Mandurah has evolved from being Australia’s 114th largest township in 1954 (population of just 1,689) to recently ticking past 100,000 on the population clock as the 24th largest city in this huge country.

According to the latest data from ABS, Mandurah was the nation’s fastest growing population across the 20-years ending June 2023. The 91 percent population increase was nearly 3-times the national average.

While Sydney (-400,000), Melbourne (-80,000), Adelaide (-70,000) and Darwin (-12,000) all produced internal migration declines over the last 20-years, Mandurah attracted a whopping net gain of 30,000.

It is easy to appreciate why Mandurah’s rising is akin to the evolution of a fledgling into Winks.

Similar in size to Albury-Wodonga and Maitland, this major regional city is surrounded by the natural beauty of sandy white beaches, dolphins, the Peel-Harvey estuary, Serpentine River, amazing wildlife, urban parklands, a cosmopolitan café and restaurant scene and A-grade sporting amenities.

Digging deep into the data weeds, Propertyology’s research confirmed that migrants from Perth and the UK (11.3 percent of residents were born in England) were the biggest contributors to Mandurah’s nation-leading population growth rate.

Understandably, it is also a popular place for mining sector FIFO workers to call home.

Mandurah’s 75 percent homeownership rate is superior to the national average.

The local demographic consists of an above average median household age of 45 years (compared to the national average of 38) and a higher ratio of couples without children.

The workforce is predominantly blue-collar. 12 percent have degree qualifications (compared to a 26 percent national average).

Any city which effectively doubles its population within just 20-years will have more than its fair share of challenges.

To keep ahead of the curve throughout the last 2-decades, the local government has astutely implemented a “Buy Back The Bush” housing policy.

Mandurah’s housing supply needs have been progressively met by developing former scrublands into urban communities.

 

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Long-term town planning strategy boasts a clear resistance to Gold Coast-style high-storey apartments.

A significant 83 percent of homes are detached houses – the national average is 35 percent.

And 49 percent of homes have 4-bedrooms.

Apartments represent just 3 percent of dwellings, and the remaining 14 percent are townhouses and duplexes.

The compromise to Mandurah’s growing pains and its resistance to vertical developments is that a large volume of detached houses has been built on very small lots.

So, while the general lifestyle is highly desirable, many households have to contend with living in their neighbour’s back pocket.

Despite holding the national mantle for population growth over the last 20-years, Mandurah’s property market was very much a below par performer with average annual growth of 5.2 percent (from $190,000 to $530,000).

Given its social and economic connectivity to the state’s capital, Mandurah’s property market will always be joined at the hip with Perth’s.

During the middle of the last 20-years, a sharp downturn in China’s purchases exposed Western Australia’s high reliance export revenue and resulted in a prolonged statewide property market downturn.

Mandurah’s median house price in 2020 had slipped back to the same value of 14-years earlier ($270,000).

Whilst it is a beautiful city to live, history proves that its property market performance is closely linked to the state’s export revenue, particularly the activity of China whom the state received $130 billion from in 2023.

WA accounts for 45 percent of Australia’s total exports, worth $260 billion to Western Australia’s economy (including $130 billion from iron ore).

 

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