There’s value on the fringes
ONE of the many perks of the world of Foxtel, other than the wonderful, inspiring people I work with, the Christmas party and the tickets to the Logies, is that I get to travel all over Australia looking at houses.
In my travels, I see considerable diversity but I also observe a considerable number of housing market patterns that seem to apply wherever I go.
One element of housing everyone seeks is good value for money.
One way we equate value for money with our home relates to size.
It makes perfect sense; if you have managed to acquire a larger home and block for the same money as a smaller comparable home, you feel good.
Now that comparable upsize usually comes at a location cost. That makes sense.
It might not be such an aesthetically attractive area, or be further from amenities or blighted by poor performing schools (yes, it can have a value impact) or noise from a major road or airport.
Whatever it maybe, this usually feels like a location compromise.
You can arrive back to your new home or sit in your new back yard telling your friends the move was so worthwhile as you now have a butler’s pantry bigger than your actual kitchen, a three-car garage even though you only have two cars and a main bedroom so big you’re considering bedroom subdivision and joining an online rent-a-room website, but what if the size upgrade you want is outside?
If the size of the home doesn’t need to be mansion-like, the other way to feel value for money is by acquiring land: just pure space.
The clear pattern I often see across Australia is the value offered by acreage suburbs.
Yes, amenities may be a little further away and you might have to buy a ride-on mower, although many would consider that a serious plus point, but in my experience the move to acreage always seems like a trade up. Yet price wise, there is very little difference to the similar-sized suburban home in dwelling terms and unlike the big home in Compromiseville you sit in this back yard smiling, and when you arrive home you feel you have value for money.
Acreage across Australia is often undervalued; in fact, in some parts of the country it is that cheap you could literally sell up in suburbia, give up seven days a week work, go part-time and grow your own vegies. That is the extreme, of course, but acreage and high price tags are rare.
Now, it’s not for everyone. My family, including my three daughters, tried it; we had 6.47ha, a massive hillside, an 800m unsealed driveway, the most beautiful views, five minutes from suburbia and a gorgeous house. We loved it.
What went wrong was we had no real use for the land, no ponies, no chooks, no kids wanting to ride minibikes, no hobbies that needed space.
The fact was, as a family, we didn’t need the space, albeit our choice was a bit of an extreme.
It seems that if you look a little further out, are prepared to drive a few kilometres up that hill, dare to travel no more than 10 to 15 minutes from the suburbs, you can potentially discover a very affordable home that does not feel like a compromise and will feel like you’ve got value for money.
The entry-level homes may be a little dated, feature pine cladding in abundance, vast amounts of brick and a private septic drainage system that’s best not to stand downwind from on a hot sunny day, but all these negatives are easy fixes to undertake over time.
Acreage buying means space. It could also mean, in many instances, the chance to build something, perhaps a secondary dwelling for extended family, renting out or just to house your annoying teens/young adults.
From Perth to Darwin, Brisbane to Adelaide, the Gold Coast and Tasmania, accessible, not isolated, acreage is reasonably priced and often possible from the $400,000s to $500,000s for the tired, old homes that need remodelling.
Even Melbourne has entrylevel acreage property as close as 40km from the CBD starting in the $600,000s.
While many measure convenience with distance to the nearest big-city CBD, many of us don’t actually work in the CBD nor have a daily need to go there, and in the big cities many sources of employment are actually on the outer fringes or in suburban locations.
Acreage can be near schools, 10 minutes from shops and it can come complete with stunning natural environments, peace and privacy. I call that value for money.
So if you are planning a move, maybe head out of the city and see what your property dollar could buy. You may be very surprised.
LIFESTYLE CHOICE: If you are planning a move and want for money, maybe it’s time to head out of the city.