Cheapest land and houses in regional NSW
A better lifestyle or capital growth no longer have to be mutually exclusive terms when it comes to where you live.
The 'servicification' of NSW regional areas and potential for significant capital growth of real estate, coupled with the trend of pandemic-inspired sea and tree changers is set to open up a whole new world of home ownership.
With a seismic shift in cultural trends in regional areas, and in city dwellers' growing attraction to these regions, lifestyle enhancement and wealth creation no longer have to cancel each other out.
NSW land values outside the Greater Sydney area are, on average, between a third and a half of those in the major metropolitan area. And while some areas such as Byron Bay and Orange have enjoyed considerable price growth recently, they also illustrate the potential of non-metro areas. This is also highlighted by the fact regional home prices have grown by almost double those of Sydney over the last 12 months - 7 per cent to 3.7 per cent respectively.
Added to that, the culture gap between most region and metropolitan areas, is likely not as great as it once was, making the move easier.
"In my view most of the regional areas in the last five years have developed their strategies around customer service and are catering for a broader market," The Agency CEO Matt Lahood said.
The New England area ($177 per square metre) and the Murray region ($200 per sqm) is where the cheapest land is available in regional NSW, according to data provided by the Housing Industry Association and CoreLogic, based on sales of unimproved lots over the last five quarters.
Other metrics such as median lot price and median home value generally correspond with these land values, as laid out in the data table below.
The Riverina is the next cheapest region for land at $203 sqm followed by the Far West and Orana ($230) and the Central West ($238).
The Illawarra land values are the most expensive in regional NSW at an average of $734 per sqm, followed by the Central Coast at $674 per sqm and Richmond - Tweed at $537.
The Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven ($453), Coffs Harbour - Grafton ($418) and the Mid North Coast at $406 sqm are a rung cheaper.
These latter areas could represent arguably the best value in the current market, depending on your financial position and your lifestyle wants.
Some prices in regional areas have traditionally struggled for growth. That may continue in some areas, but there is certainly demand in many locations consistently putting upward pressure on home values.
"The demand and influx from metro buyers are pushing up prices via increased competition," Mr Lahood said.
"With the trend of people moving towards these areas, capital growth should naturally follow, for example like we have seen in Byron Bay and Gold Coast.
Janet Bond of regional Australia advocate Wattle Road, which offers inspiration and guides for those wishing to move from the city to regional areas, points out there are two distinct price rings.
One, which loops around areas such as the Central Coast and Illawarra, where commuting to Sydney is possible, are at the upper tier of regional home values.
The second ring, which extends out to locations like Bathurst, Newcastle and Coffs Harbour requires a life 'transplant' where you move everything including your job and community connections.
"It's a life-changing move," Ms Bond said.
"If you're moving three hours or more from the city, that prompts that journey about schooling, jobs, friendships and family."
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 10,500 Australias have swapped capital cities for the country this year - the most on record.
It also means lesser worries about good coffee or decent yoga classes can be assuaged.
"It's busting this myth about 'city slickers versus country bumpkins' - that it's a life in the sticks away from the rest of the world. Universities and government departments are opening up in these areas, transport is improving.
"As more and more people move the demography of these towns is changing."
Housing Industry Association economist Angela Lillicrap said the inner ring of value also offers significant lifestyle change.
"In Wollongong and the Illawarra for example that lifestyle factor is what comes into play," she said.
"You can access Sydney via transport such as the train network but you get more for your money. If you look at the median lot price compared to Sydney you are getting more land for less."
The internet and working from home has enabled greater regional migration and the opportunity for additional income, property valuer Simon Feilich of Austen Dyson Advisory said.
"There is greater interest and growth in lifestyle-centric regional areas, outer-lying beach areas or lifestyle farms and the growth of the homestay market for the owner occupier.
"It's a hybrid investment, a second residence, and platforms such as Airbnb are allowing that."
However if you're looking for an absolute bargain buy in regional NSW, you might be sorely disappointed. Are there any out there?
"Not that we've seen," Mr Lahood said.
COMPARISON OF NSW LAND VALUES, METROPOLITAN SYDNEY AND REGIONAL AREAS
Capital Region - sqm: $374: median lot price: $241,200: median house price: $420,000 (Goulburn)
Central Coast - sqm: $675: median lot price: $319,562: median house price: $768,000 (East Gosford)
Central West - sqm: $238: median lot price: $174,850: median house price: $400,000 (Bathurst)
Coffs Harbour - sqm: $418 median lot price: $253,600: median house price: $508,000 (Coffs Harbour)
Far West and Orana - sqm: $231: median lot price: $161,450: median house price: $235,000 (Narromine)
Hunter Valley exc Newcastle - sqm: $351: median lot price: $204,800: median house price: $438,000 (Maitland)
Illawarra - sqm: $734 median lot price: $357,795: median house price: $902,000 (Wollongong)
Mid North Coast - sqm: $405: median lot price: $238,700: median house price: $519,000 (Urunga)
Murray - sqm: $200: median lot price: $145,140: median house price: $560,000 (Albury)
New England and North West - sqm: $177: median lot price: $131,600: median house price: $360,000 (Armidale)
Newcastle and Lake Macquarie - sqm: $535: median lot price: $299,400: median house price: $731,000 (New Lambton)
Richmond - Tweed - sqm: $538 median lot price: $366,600: median house price: $760,000 (Tweed Heads)
Riverina - sqm: $203: median lot price: $150,500: median house price: $442,000 (Wagga Wagga)
Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven - sqm: $453: median lot price: $293,170: median house price: $679,000 (Shoalhaven Heads)
Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury - sqm: $1310: median lot price: $527,000: median house price: $1.2m (Baulkham Hills)
Blacktown - sqm: $1286: median lot price: $443,490: median house price: $700,000 (Blacktown)
City and Inner South: - sqm: n/a: median lot price: $930,000 (Marrickville): median house price: $1.5m (Marrickville)
Eastern Suburbs: - sqm: n/a: median lot price: $1.52m (Bondi Beach): median house price: $2.9m (Bondi)*
Inner South West: - sqm: n/a: median lot price: $999,000 (Oatley): median house price: $1.6m (Oatley)
Inner west: - sqm: n/a: median lot price: $ 748,000 (Newtown): median house price: $1.4m (Newtown)
North Sydney and Hornsby - sqm: $1688: median lot price: $1,286,350: median house price: $2.1m (North Sydney)
Northern Beaches - sqm: $2209: median lot price: $1,182,200: median house price: $2.9m (Manly)
Outer South West - sqm: $1034: median lot price: $388,380: median house price: $565,000 (Campbelltown)
Outer West and Blue Mountains - sqm: $945: median lot price: $430,290: median house price: $599,000 (Katoomba)
Parramatta - sqm: $1483: median lot price: $772,120: median house price: $1.2m (Parramatta)
Ryde - sqm: n/a: median lot price: $955,000 (Ryde): median house price: $1.6m (Ryde)
South West - sqm: $1126 median lot price: $406,590: median house price: $1.3m (Canterbury)
Sutherland - sqm: $1418: median lot price: $788,500: median house price: $1.1m (Sutherland)
METRO V REGIONAL AVERAGE
Greater Sydney - sqm: $1169: median lot price: $427,364: median house price: $860,967
Rest of NSW - sqm: $364: median lot price: $225,700: median house price: $491,862
*Price per square metre and median lot price is based on sales from the five quarters through to June 2020, data via HIA/CoreLogic.
Where the media lot price is n/a, a benchmark property from the NSW Valuer General has been used as an example.
Median house prices are as of December 2020, via CoreLogic data.
As always when considering making a property transaction, seek independent financial advice.
Originally published as Cheapest land and houses in regional NSW