Baby Boom Spurs Demand For Middle Ring Suburbs

After 13 years of declining birth rates, and helped by government incentives introduced in 2004, the generation X (those aged between 28 and 43) are finally having babies again. In 2005, more than 260,000 children were born in Australia – many to older, first time parents who are now expecting, or preparing for their second child, according to real estate agents.

Not surprisingly, this is affecting Melbourne’s real estate game, with inner-city apartments, warehouses and terrace homes now largely outgrown. Today, a growing family needs a family-size home, preferably on a large block and close to new amenities, like kindergarten, crèche, park land and schools.

Agents say a growing number of people who own small, but expensive real estate in the inner-city are putting their homes on the market, and using their profits to buy in expensive middle-ring suburbs between eight and 20 kilometres from the city. In most cases, according to agents, buyers are prepared to pay a high price for the right family home.

Take the suburb of Hampton, 16 kilometers south of Melbourne.

“We get a lot of inquiry from young professional relocating from the inner city,” said Kate Smith, sales executive with Hocking Stuart Sandringham.

“They might own a single fronted Edwardian in Albert Park which is worth $1.2 million,” she said. “They can buy a large family home just the other side of Brighton for the same amount of money and still enjoy living by the bay.”

“The sort of people we’re talking about usually find they can afford a 3-bedroom plus study, or 4-bedroom family home quite easily.”

Real estate agents in other parts of Melbourne agree, saying family homes in suburbs close to town are hot property.

We take a look at some of the suburbs benefiting from this trend.


Where is it? 8 kilometres north of the CBD.
Train it: Seven stops from Flinders Street (25 minutes);
Drive it: 12 minutes.
Airport: 14 minutes.
Nearest Beach: 16 minutes (Port Melbourne)
Median price at December 2006: $380,000 (December 2005: $371,500).
Agents approximation of 3-bedroom family homes: $500,000 to $600,000.
People here have moved from: Brunswick, Carlton, Richmond

Hardly suburbia, when you consider its less than 8 kilometres from the CBD, agents say Coburg in Melbourne’s north is attracting new residents from the inner northern and eastern suburbs.

Unrenovated Californian Bungalows with a lounge and three bedrooms start at around $330,000. Homes that have been extended and renovated to include an open plan family room and a study, on a big block in one of the suburb’s better streets, fetch around $600,000 nowadays. That’s about the same price as a 2-bedroom terrace in Carlton.

“A lot of people who have bought in Coburg grew up in the eastern suburbs, have bought in the inner city, and are now realizing they can’t afford to buy close to their parents in Camberwell or Kew,” says David Devlin, sales executive with Barry Plant in Coburg. “Buyers are attracted to Coburg’s convenience getting to Brunswick, Carlton and the city – and the Citylink freeway which gets them to the southern and south-eastern suburbs quickly.”


Where is it? 12 kilometres, north-east of the CBD
Train it: Twelve stops from Flinders Street (22 minutes);
Drive it: 14 minutes.
Airport: 24 minutes.
Nearest Beach: 18 minutes (Albert Park)
Median price at December 2006: $622,500 (December 2005: $595,000)
Agents approximation of 3-bedroom family homes: $700,000 to $2m+.
People have moved here from: Clifton Hill, Fitzroy North, Carlton

“There’s always been a constant movement of buyers who move to Ivanhoe from the inner city,” says Damian Carter, director of Miles Real Estate in Ivanhoe. “A lot of people relocate from Carlton and North Fitzroy to the belt of suburbs including Alphington, Fairfield and Ivanhoe when they need a family sized home.”

“A fully renovated family home costs anywhere between $700,000 to $1.5 million, with the top end homes going for more than $2.5 million.”

Inner city buyers haven’t yet made the jump over the Yarra River to adjoing suburbs such as Bulleen and Heidelberg, said Mr Carter. “Ivanhoe seems to be the furthest point they go.”


Suburb snapshot: 14 kilometres south-east of the CBD
Train it: Thirteen stops from Flinders Street (27 minutes);
Drive it: 14 minutes.
Airport: 31 minutes
Nearest Beach: 15 minutes (Brighton)
Median price at December 2006: $605,000 (December 2005: $576,000).
Agents approximation of 3-bedroom family homes: $700,000 to $900,000.
People have moved here from: Richmond, Clifton Hill, Prahran East

Direct freeway access, a train line, period homes and being in the catchment zone for some of Melbourne’s most exclusive schools continue to attract people to the understated suburb of Ashburton, wedged between Camberwell and Malvern.

“A lot of people who started life in the area and then moved into the inner city, are coming back to Ashburton to buy once they start having a family,” said Jellis Craig sales consultant Damien Davis. “A renovated and extended four bedroom Californian Bungalow in a good street on a reasonable block of land would start at about $700,000”

That’s about the price of a renovated 2-bedroom terrace home in Prahran.

“Those that come to Ashburton also inspect Ashwood, Glen Iris and Malvern East,” said Mr Davis.


Suburb snapshot: 16 kilometres south of the CBD
Train it: Twelve stops from Flinders Street (27 minutes);
Drive it: 21 minutes.
Airport: 37 minutes
Nearest Beach: 1 minute (Hampton)
Median price at December 2006: $1,000,000 (December 2005: $715,000)
Agents approximation of 3-bedroom family homes: $1 million +
People have moved here from: St Kilda, Albert Park, Port Melbourne

Young professionals that haven’t been in the game for long enough to afford Brighton, are flocking to Hampton, say agents.

“Our residents predominantly come from Albert Park, Middle Park and Elwood,” says Ms Smith. “As such, they’re usually looking to spend between $1 million and $1.5 million for a family size home.”

Ms Smith says the train line makes both Hampton, and the adjoining suburb of Sandringham, more attractive to those relocating from the inner-city.

“Because they’re used to living bayside, they don’t want to go inland,” said Ms Smith. “Good road infrastructure and access to good kindergartens, and schools is also attracting people the area and the village.”



Suburb snapshot: 13 kilometres south-west of the CBD
Train it: Seven stops from Flinders Street (20 minutes);
Drive it: 12 minutes.
Airport: 23 minutes
Nearest Beach: 3 minutes (Williamstown)
Median house price at December 2006: $445,000 (December 2005: $372,000).
Agents approximation of 3-bedroom family homes: $600,000 to $800,000.
People have moved here from: Port Melbourne, South Melbourne, St Kilda

“People are continuing to realize that Newport is as close to the city as the suburbs they are moving from, but that they get a lot more for their money” says John A Williams sales executive Katie Smith.

“A fully renovated period home on a large block of land can start at about $600,000,” said Ms Smith. “More recently, we’ve been selling family homes for around $750,000.”

The same money across the bay buys you a luxury 2-bedroom apartment in Port Melbourne, or a terrace house in St Kilda.

“We find people relocating to the west also look at Yarraville and Williamstown if they have the money,” said Ms Smith.



Suburb snapshot: 10 kilometres north-west of the CBD
Tram it: 40 minutes Drive it: 15 minutes
Airport: 18 minutes
Median house price at December 2006: $590,000 (December 2005: $492,500).
Nearest Beach: 16 minutes (Williamstown)
Agents approximation of 3-bedroom family homes: $500,000 to $1.5 million.
People have moved here from: Kensington, Ascot Vale

Defined for years as the home of the Department of Defence’s massive Explosions Factory, and one of the city’s biggest shopping centres (Highpoint), Maribyrnong is in the enviable position of being surrounded by the Maribyrnong River to the east, north and west.

“Most people move to Maribyrnong when they’ve outgrown inner city homes, particularly in Kensington and Ascot Vale,” said Mr Errichiello, who adds it’s only grown in popularity recently. “Six years ago, I had to twist people’s arm to inspect a place in Maribyrnong, now they’re twisting my arm to get in there.”

Large land sales by the government to developers has seen three new estates grow in the north-western suburb, the most expensive being Edgewater which is on the border of Flemington.

“Good quality family homes in the older part of Maribyrnong can start at around $500,000,” said Mr Errichiello. “The new stuff sells for closer to a million, more if the house has city or river views”

Mr Errichiello says the lack of a train station is keeping Maribyrnong’s prices relatively affordable, even though the suburb is well serviced by tram and bus. “If it had a train station, property prices in Maribyrnong would be 20 per cent higher than they are today.”


Suburb snapshot: 16 kilometres south-east of the CBD
Train it: Eight stops from Flinders Street (30 minutes);
Drive it: 18 minutes.
Airport: 33 minutes
Median price as at December 2006: $575,500 (December 2005 median: $470,000).
Nearest Beach: 12 minutes (Brighton)
Agents approximation of 3-bedroom family homes: $450,000 to $750,000.
People have moved here from: Richmond, Prahran

The corridor of Carnegie, Ormond and Bentleigh is a popular choice for inner city buyers looking for a family home in the south-east suburbs, according to agents.

“People who have relocated to family homes here, from the inner city, are attracted to homes by a train station, close to the beach, and close to amenity such as a retail strip,” said Hodges Bentleigh branch manager Jack Krechman. “Despite it being nearby, most people relocating from the inner-city consider Murumbeena to be too far at the moment.”

Mr Krechman says the growth of retail strips such as Glen Huntly Road and South Road has helped the suburb grow in character.

“Five years ago, if I’d fired a canon down Koornang Road, nobody would have been there to see it,” said Mr Krechman. “It’s a different story now that the café late scene has arrived, everything is in abundance and convenient, just like the inner city areas”

A fully renovated family sized home in Carnegie can start at around $500,000 and range to more than $1 million. The suburb is bound by two train stations (Pakanhem & Frankston lines) and as such there are plenty of period homes on large blocks to choose from, according to agents.


Suburb snapshot: 22 kilometres south of the CBD
Train it: 16 stops from the city (39 minutes);
Drive it: 26 minutes
Airport: 41 minutes
Median Price at December 2006: $586,000 (December 2005: $465,000)
Nearest Beach: 1 minute (Mentone)
Agents approximation of 3-bedroom family home: $400,000 to $1m+
People have moved here from: Albert Park, Middle Park, St Kilda

The suburb of Mentone has proved popular for inner-city residents, attracted to the ability to build their dream home on the water, for a fraction of the cost of anywhere closer to the city, say agents.

“We’ve had people who have sold their places in Albert Park, and bought homes on the water in Mentone, Parkdale or Mordialloc,” said Thomson real estate sales executive Simon Bartaby. “Some have been able to pocket a fair bit of money from the move.”

Waterfront homes come at a cost however, starting at around $1 million. Family homes back from the beach can be purchased for around $500,000, with some offering bay glimpses if built up.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of