Great place to live but you wouldn't want to buy there

Posted on 25/07/2014  
Great place to live but you wouldn't want to buy there

You may be surprised to learn that the greatest place to live in Australia is ... wait for it, Canberra!

In another of those pointless exercises in which bureaucrats take delight, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation has developed a global wellbeing matching tool, which considers factors such as safety, health, services, life expectancy, environment, crime rates and income.

Using this exciting new technology, it has determined that Canberra outranks every other city in Australia as the best place to live out your days.

This being so, you might wonder why Sydney has 4.6 million residents and Canberra 380,000, and why there are eight Australia cities with more people than Canberra. Even Tasmania has more residents than the ACT.

Apparently all those poor saps in Sydney don't know that Canberra is a superior city. Imagine - four million Australians, living a lie.

But here's an important thought: despite what the OECD tool says about life expectancy, you don't live longer in Canberra, it just feels that way.

Do the OECD boffins realise that living in Canberra means having Tony Abbott as a neighbour? Or, even worse, Clive Palmer?

Another relevant question is this: if Canberra's so damn good, how come it's the worst-performing property market in capital city Australia?

Every other city is showing at least some forward movement in its property markets, but Australia's best place to be is going nowhere. Prices have stagnated at a time of very high growth down the road in inferior Sydney. Canberra rents are going backwards and developers of apartment buildings are having to downsize through lack of buyer interest. Auction clearance rates are 53% for houses and 36% for apartments.

Goulburn, not far from Canberra, is showing solid growth, but in the capital there's little in the way of meaningful growth. Gosford, where the Federal Government plans to send 600 Canberra jobs, apparently oblivious to the OECD's findings, is booming.

Canberra markets are stalled by uncertainty and nervousness resulting from the Federal Government's plans to make big cuts to the public sector workforce.

Canberra has maintained consistent turnover of residential property, quarter by quarter, throughout 2013 and into early 2014. The city seems to churn through 1,250 to 1,300 home sales each quarter with consistency. But, unlike every other capital city in Australia, it has no suburbs charging forward price-wise.

At the top end of the Canberra market, prices are falling. In upmarket Yarralumla, the median price has dropped 7% in the past 12 months. In Griffith, the median price has fallen 12% (but remains above $1 million). Equally swanky Red Hill has dropped 14% in 12 months.

So, a damn fine place to live, if you don't mind stiff winters and lousy neighbours, but not a great place to own real estate at the moment.

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