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The Tale of Two Cities: Melbourne vs Sydney When it Comes To House Hunting



The Melbourne-Sydney rivalry dates back for centuries and has been linked to when the two states were fighting over the location of the new Federation’s parliament and even further back to the 1800s when the gold rush in Victoria fuelled population expansion. Whatever sparked this competitive spirit, it’s certainly a topic that hasn’t waned in modern times. Whether it’s “the coffee is better in Melbourne” or “the weather is better in Sydney” the tale of two cities continues to fire up passionate debate across culture, sports, politics and even the property market.

When it comes to researching where to live, both cities have their pros and cons. Think cost of living, public transport, health system, community engagement and even the weather. However we wanted to dig a little deeper and find out what really matters to buyers in Melbourne and Sydney when they’re searching for their dream home, and the suburb they want to live in.

With this in mind, we conducted a buyer survey to compare buying preferences of house hunters in both cities, and how their responses matched up against buyer demand data such as auction clearance rates and the most searched suburbs on the realestateview.com.au website – producing some interesting results…

Sydney-siders prefer the great outdoors; Melburnians can’t get enough of their city

In the survey, buyers were asked to rank the top property and suburb features they considered important when buying a home. Interestingly, Melbourne buyers ranked a good floor plan above their Sydney cousins, while a property that had a garage/car space as well as an outdoor area were both higher up the list of priorities for buyers in Sydney compared to Melbourne. Does this indicate that Sydney residents value big houses and outdoor space more than their Melbourne counterparts? It certainly appears to be the case, especially when comparing this data with the most searched suburbs in both states which revealed the highest demand was for inner city suburbs in Melbourne while Sydney-siders are more actively seeking property at least 20kms from the CBD.

More cars on Sydney roads while Melbourne hosts a city of commuters…

Perhaps Sydney’s love for the great outdoors has meant a greater reliance on cars, with the city’s buyers ranking traffic as their second highest consideration when choosing a suburb to live in. Conversely Melburnians seem to have a preference for properties located close to public transport, ranking public transport access higher up the list – a sentiment backed by auction clearance data which shows the suburbs with the highest clearance rates in Melbourne all have good access to public transport.

Value for money drives Melbourne buyers, Sydney residents want to live the dream

Taking a closer look at the suburbs with the highest auction clearance rates, value for money seems to be the key driver in the Melbourne auction market – with the list comprising ‘next-door’ suburbs such as Ivanhoe East, Surrey Hills, Carlton North, all of which offer more ‘bang for buck’ than their traditionally more affluent neighbours Ivanhoe, Balwyn and Fitzroy / Carlton. In comparison, the Sydney auction market appears to be strong in suburbs located within a 20km radius of the CBD – and with a majority of these suburbs known for their large homes and backyards, it’s clear Sydney residents refuse to compromise on their love for space.

What they have in common…

Despite the nuances, there is some common ground for house hunters in both cities. Price, location and the potential for a property to rise in value are all top of their list of key property considerations, while neighbourhood safety is the shared number one concern when it comes to researching a suburb.

Differences and rivalry aside, whether you are a buyer in Melbourne or Sydney, both states have undeniable appeal to make you lucky to call them home. It’s no surprise as buyers and residents we put a lot of weight on the “best city” or “best suburb” or even “best location”, however what’s important to remember is it’s our differences that make us who we are.

Check out the infographic below summarising key data and stats contained within this article!