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Regional Australia’s top 5 cheapest and best places to invest in property

A BIG country town famous for its golden guitar, another dubbed the beef capital, and a holiday hotspot ranked the country’s least liveable city have been named in a list of cheapest places in Australia to buy property.

A new report by leading property analyst and Hotspotting director Terry Ryder suggests investors seeking affordable property with prospects in the next six months should look further afield than their own backyards.

The Hotspotting report names five regional ‘cheapies with prospects’ across the country that meet the criteria of having affordable buy-in prices, solid rental returns, potential for price growth and growing populations.

It comes as new figures show Australia faces a population boom fuelled by a rise in net overseas migration of up to 1.755 million by 2028.

Regional areas are predicted to grow at phenomenal speeds, particularly in Queensland as migrants form NSW and Victoria seek out more affordable living options.

Hotspotting director Terry Ryder said the report featured five regional locations where investors could readily find properties in the $200,000s or $300,000s, and which also had solid growth potential.

“They’re not that hard to find because regional Australia is full of locations with good growth prospects and solid properties in the $200,000, $300,000, and $400,000 price brackets,” Mr Ryder said.

“They are regional centres which share characteristics of low prices, solid rental returns, and the potential for price growth. In fact, many of these areas can match the best capital cities for capital growth over time.”

Hotspotting general manager Tim Graham said many regional areas had outperformed the big cities in the past three years.

“Affordable prices, higher yields and superior growth: it’s a win-win-win situation for investors,” Mr Graham said.

“Of course, not every regional centre in the nation is a future hotspot. A location needs to have more to offer than cheap real estate to be featured in this report — it must also have growth drivers likely to lead to capital growth over time.”

Dr Laura Crommelin, Senior Lecturer in City Planning at the School of Built Environment at the UNSW said some regions had experienced a significant influx of new residents in recent years motivated by cheaper, more spacious housing on offer.

“Some who are priced out of the city housing markets may be able to afford a more spacious, standalone dwelling in a regional area,” Dr Crommelin said.

“Those regional areas within striking distance of the city are increasingly popular with those who still might commute once or twice a week to the city for work, but spend most of their time living by the coast.”

Dr Crommelin said demand for affordable rental properties was also exceptionally high in some regions.


Rockhampton, Central Qld

  • Affordable housing
  • Revitalised CBD
  • Billions in renewable energy projects
  • $2.5 billion Shoalwater Bay Military Training Centre redevelopment
  • $1.1 billion Rockhampton Ring Road
  • $983 million River Fitzroy to Gladstone water pipeline
  • $495 million Lower Fitzroy River weir
  • $575 million master planned estate.

Mr Graham said Rockhampton’s affordable property market had been relatively unaffected by the pandemic.

“This resilience, plus the roll-out of several significant construction projects, are turning Rockhampton into a magnet for southern migrants, first homebuyers and investors,” he said.

“Demand for properties is high and vacancies are tight — below 1.5 per cent in most Rockhampton postcodes.”

Mr Graham said Rockhampton’s diverse economy was being boosted by the resources sector with construction of the Bravus (formerly Adani) coal mine well under way.

Tamworth, Regional NSW

  • Strong future as regional freight hub
  • High population growth
  • $210 million hospital upgrade
  • $1.3 billion Dungowan Dam project
  • $37 million University of New England Tamworth CBD campus

Mr Ryder said Tamworth continued to grow, with billion-dollar infrastructure projects rolling


“With its intermodal freight hub, Tamworth Global Gateway Park is set to be one of the engine rooms of the New England economy,” Mr Ryder said.

“The city is also part of a significant emerging region for renewable energy developments, with projects worth more than $10b on the horizon, including a Tamworth Big Battery.”

Mr Ryder said Tamworth was also appealing for its affordability and rural lifestyle, and along with its space and established facilities.

“A wave of new residential developments is also now under way, or in the pipeline, throughout the LGA and in nearby areas,” he said. “The Tamworth property market is strong, with low vacancies and the consistent delivery of high rental yields continuing to attract investors. Units are also recording double-digit annual growth of 20 per cent and above.”

Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast, SA

  • Affordable housing
  • Low vacancies and rising rents
  • $120 million renewable energy plant
  • Forestry industry development hub
  • Timber plant expansions
  • Hotel upgrades

Mr Graham said Mount Gambier was rated one of the best regional centres in South Australia for property investment due to its affordable housing, lifestyle opportunities and employment growth.

“Forestry is also one of the key industries in the region with expansion plans in the pipeline for several of the region’s largest employers,” he said.

“The region has also become popular with interstate and intrastate residents moving to the Limestone Coast.”

With a median house price of $375,000 and yields above five per cent, Mount Gambier is a location worth considering by investors seeking affordability, notable cash flow and prospects for growth, plus rental availability is extremely tight, with vacancies staying below one per cent since 2020, he said.

Lockyer Valley, Regional Qld

Strategic location between Ipswich and Toowoomba, with good road links

Strong, diverse economy including manufacturing, agriculture, tourism,

resources, and government admin

  • $11 billion Inland Rail Project
  • $245 million water distribution plan
  • $180 million food processing plant
  • $110 million Equine Precinct
  • $100 million Lockyer Energy Project

The population in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley, halfway between Brisbane and Toowoomba, is expected to grow by more than 37 per cent by 2046, jumping from 41,000 now to 57,000, according to new population figures.

Mr Ryder said the region was rated among the top 10 most fertile farming areas in the world.

“The area is also home to light industry and a Queensland University campus, is at the gateway to the Surat Basin mining precinct and has a growing renewables sector,” he said.

Good road links and a scenic backdrop of the steep hills and mountains meant the area’s natural beauty and rural charm attracted visitors and residents from across the state and beyond, he said.

Geraldton, Regional WA

  • WA’s second largest port
  • Largest WA city north of Perth
  • Australia’s windsurfing capital
  • Major mining centre
  • High-speed train to Perth proposed
  • Commercial activity hub
  • Affordability and rising sales activity
  • Very low vacancies

The only city on Western Australia’s Coral Coast, and the largest north of Perth, Geraldton is a key regional centre that has grown swiftly in recent years, in line with growth in Perth and the State overall.

“With an increasing population and growing economy, there has been a notable increase in the LGA’s property market,” Mr Ryder said.

“Geraldton experienced a marked uplift in sales activity in this period that was partly due to budget prices when compared to Perth, with houses typically priced in the $300,000s.”

Earlier this year, Geraldton came last in a study by Avenue Perth of the most liveable cities in Australia, based on safety, average cost of living, number of banks and number of restaurants.