Northern seachange city loses to Melbourne’s west

The switch in population growth hotspots on the Australian continent has been gradual but inevitable. The glamour hotspot of Gold Coast in Queensland used to be the nation’s fastest growing region for decades due to the allure of sunshine, sea breeze and the carefree lifestyle which makes a beautiful setting for a retiring generation.

However, the new “fastest growing region in Australia” is no longer in Queensland or anywhere near the coastal regions of Australia. The baton of high population growth has now been passed to a region in Melbourne’s west, where the municipalities of Wyndham (formerly Werribee) and Melton added 18,000 residents over the year to June 2009. In comparison, the best the Gold Coast could manage in the same period was 17,000.

KPMG demographer Bernard Salt
reckons sea change locations are still important because we all long to be close to the coast and the idyllic lifestyle these locations have to offer. The allure of Werribee and Melton is certainly not lifestyle because the property industry has recently found a new best friend in the name of affordability.

Many project home builders are undertaking new house and land packages in these two suburbs where prices for a home on approximately 550sqm start at about $260,000 in Melton. The slightly more expensive suburb of Werribee and Wyndhamvale have packages for $280,000. Based on these prices compared to other major capital cities across Australia, Salt believes the fundamental shift in people’s mindset is towards affordable housing and to be more realistic about the eluding ideal of living in choice locations. In the year to June 1999, Wyndham and Melton added a mere 4,000 residents. Therefore, the western edge of Melbourne is seen to have exploded into prominence in less than a decade. This sudden growth in demand is creating business opportunities, especially in property around the industrial area of Laverton and the residential suburbs of Point Cook, Truganina, Tarneit, Caroline Springs and Melton South where private and government investments in retail and commercial developments in the form of new shopping centres and mega-stores for bulky goods are underway. The addition of 18,000 new residents to Wyndham and Melton in 12 months supports the demand for 6,000 new dwellings that have to be designed, financed, constructed, furnished and inhabited in a single year. Allowing for a modest loan of $200,000 per dwelling, this growth equates to an annual mortgage market worth $1.2 billion.

The rate of growth also means that each year, Wyndham and Melton must yield no less than 6,000 new refrigerators, televisions, cook-tops, washing machines and all the furnishings peripherals that is required to set up a new household. It doens’t just end here because 18,000 new residents will also bring $180 million worth of retail spending to the local and regional shopping centres. Based on 2006 census averages, the addition of 18,000 new residents to Wyndham and Melton prompts immediate demand for 140 registered nurses, 110 primary school teachers, 25 general practitioners and 8 dentists. Melbourne’s 170-year history is a city predicated on development and maturity to its eastern regions through generations of local and long-time Melbournians. Perhaps it is the new-comers to this beautiful city with a fresh outlook that is pointing the way towards a region that can provide such good value for money to begin a new life journey.

The article above are excerpts from an article by KPMG demographer Bernard Salt in The Australian, 14 October 2010

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