CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless delivers refreshing insights for those looking to enter the regional property market where the unemployment rate is below 4%!

House prices have surged higher across the largest capital cities to levels that are often well out of reach for a growing number of households.  With housing affordability a real challenge, particularly for first home buyers, Australia’s regional areas are proving their worth.  According to Mr Lawless, the temptation to move further afield is likely to become a growing phenomenon.  

“For many people, considering a move involves much more than simply relocating – most will require secure employment and in a region that is proximate to a variety of amenity and essential services such as schools, health care and shopping facilities, particularly if they have a family, or are considering starting a family,” Mr Lawless said.

As shown below, the CoreLogic analysis identifies the regional towns where the unemployment rate is 4% or lower, and where the labour force is at least 10,000 people based on the local government area statistics.  (Note: The list is sorted in ascending order based on median house values in the area and is broad ranging, including agricultural regions, major service centers, regions linked to the mining sector and lifestyle markets).  

Towns where unemployment is less than 4%

(Excludes regions where the total labour force is less than 10,000 persons)

Towns where unemployment is less than 4%

Topping the list is the NSW agricultural town of Wellington (about 45 minutes’ drive from Dubbo) where the median house value is just $212,221. The unemployment rate across the broader Western Plains council area, which includes Wellington, has reduced from a recent peak of 5.4% down to 2.2%.
Queensland’s Isaac region, which includes mining towns such as Moranbah, Dysart and Nebo, ranks second on the list with a median house value of $221,677.  The median house value across Isaac fell by 67% between October 2012 and February 2017, but has since increased by 12% through to the end of February this year.  The unemployment rate peaked at 3.2% in 2015 and has since reduced to just 1.8%.

Making it to third spot is Ashburton, located in the southern Pilbara region of north west Western Australia.  The area has strong links with the mining sector, with mining towns such as Tom Price and Paraburdoo.  As the mining downturn worsened, the median house value across Ashburton fell from a record high of $813,834 to $260,357 at the end of 2017; a peak to trough decline of 68%.  2018 has seen housing values start to recover and labour markets have tightened.

While Mr Lawless agrees that mining towns aren’t ‘everyone’s cup of tea’, he said, “There are plenty of other locations on the list of suburbs that offer a more appealing blend of strong labour markets as well as lifestyle factors.”  

Coastal markets such as Port Macquarie-Hastings, Tweed, Ballina and the Surf Coast offer up a rich blend of low unemployment, amenity and lifestyle however housing prices are higher.  The major service centers such as Dubbo and Orange have much lower housing price points while still offering up low unemployment.  

Mr Lawless said, “Prospective buyers considering a move away from the capital cities in search of more affordable housing options might be best renting first, just in case country living isn’t for them. 

“While housing prices are generally much higher in the capital cities relative to their regional counterparts, the diversity of amenity, social options and job opportunities can often be hard to match."