Carlton sits just a couple of kilometres north of the CBD, yet its unit price is astonishingly affordable. In fact, it was recently singled out by RP Data and St George bank as an affordable growth pocket that’s been overlooked compared to its neighbours.
Certainly the median unit prices for neighbouring Fitzroy, Collingwood and North Melbourne suggest that Carlton has plenty of room for growth. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that Carlton’s unit listings show a bias towards small student studios and one-bedroom units, so when comparing like for like Carlton units won’t be quite as cheap as the median data suggests.
That said, the entry price for student studios that bring in $200 per week in rent is as little as $139,000. And with the suburb’s average yield coming in at around 7% this is an area where it’s possible to pick up a cheap, low maintenance apartment and play for rental returns.
Other than students, the rental market is made up primarily of young families and professionals, with renters making up an astonishing 79% of Carlton’s population at the last Census in 2006. This figure is expected to hold firm over the next five years by SQM Research. The rental vacancy rate sits at around the 2% mark.
The location is excellent, with the CBD, two universities and all the amenities that you can shake a stick at all being within a couple of kilometres. These include restaurants, cafes, bookstores and a cinema complex. Carlton is especially well known for its thriving Italian community, and is credited with kicking off Melbourne’s now ubiquitous café culture.
Buyer Solutions’ Janet Spencer points to Lygon Street as a real hub of activity: “It’s the main drag, with restaurants, shops, fashion boutiques, cafes and tram transport into the city.” She also highlights Nicholson Street as being good for shopping and points to Rathdown Village in Carlton North as being a "gorgeous" area.
Australian Property Buyers’ Karin Mackay agrees that Rathdown Village is a great spot, and highlights the fact that Carlton North’s growth figures are better than Carlton’s – as its unit market isn’t dominated by student apartments.