A report from Hotspotting listed the top 10 affordable lifestyle locations for homebuyers and investors wanting to catch the tree- and sea-change wave this year.

The report took into consideration the following metrics: rising sales activity, potential for capital growth, supply of affordable houses, existing and planned infrastructure, and proximity to major job nodes.

The mobility restrictions amid the pandemic seemed to have boost the demand among sea- and tree-changers but Hotspotting director Terry Ryder said the exodus to affordable lifestyle locations has begun at least five years ago.

“This core population trend has been happening for many years —the official population data shows that Sydney has been losing population to other parts of Australia for the past 10 years and Melbourne has been losing to internal migration for five to six years,” he said.

“While the COVID19 lockdown period made all this more visible and gave it extra momentum, this trend certainly wasn’t caused by the pandemic.”

Queensland is one of the most popular states for lifestyle buyers, with four state locations included in the list.

“At a time when some markets are declining from the boom-time peak levels, the regional markets overall are showing the strongest resistance to the downturn trend, which is why we believe that the exodus to affordable lifestyle trend will continue,” Mr Ryder said.

The trend can also be capitalised by investors, who are in for cheaper prices, higher rental yields, and strong potential for capital growth.

“It’s important to choose the location well and ensure there is a strong and diverse economy creating new jobs, good transport links and a good level of infrastructure spending, as well as affordable housing and an attractive lifestyle,” Mr Ryder said.

Here are the top 10 affordable lifestyle locations to watch out for this year:

City of Townsville, Queensland

The diversity of its economy and the level of infrastructure spending was able to help Townsville reverse its recent downturn — by 2021, the city was able to record exceptional property price growth, which further solidified in 2022.

“Townsville has proven its strength and resilience in the past. Its property market had an unbroken run of double-digit growth years from 2002 to 2007 and continued to enjoy the benefits of its links to the mining industry for many years,” Mr Ryder said.

Other notable highlights:

  • $278m Bunbury Hospital project
  • $1.25m Bunbury Outer Ring Rd
  • $800m Greenbushes Lithium mine expansion

City of Port Lincoln, South Australia

Home to picturesque beaches and scenery, Port Lincoln sits on one of the world’s largest protected harbours.

The city has a strong commercial fishing industry, earning it the title of being Australia’s seafood capital.

“Sales activity has risen in Port Lincoln since 2020 and there has been an uplift in property values,” Mr Ryder said.

Other notable highlights:

  • $6bn Eyre Iron project
  • $300m Eyre Peninsula link
  • $300m Port Lincoln Marina
  • $240m Eyre Peninsula Gateway Project
  • $125m in road upgrades

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Queensland

Located within the southern half of Redland Bay between the Redlands Coast and North Stradbroke Island, Southern Moreton Bay Islands is only an hour away from major nodes of Brisbane.

Most of the islands have a median house price around $300,000 to $400,000.

The two main islands – Macleay Island and Russell Island – have median house prices in the low $300,000s, making them the cheapest suburbs in the Brisbane region,” Mr Ryder said.

Other notable highlights:

  • Weinam Creek Priority Development Area
  • Toondah Harbour PDA
  • Proposed Olympic Whitewater Centre
  • $45m ferry terminal upgrades

Rural City of Murray Bridge, South Australia

Murray Bridge is one of the reliable investment hotspots in South Australia.

Its location, which is just under an hour away by car from central Adelaide, makes it a great spot for buyers looking to escape the city.

“Murray Bridge has also lured new residents with the promise of job opportunities with several agricultural, manufacturing, and tourism businesses recently expanding their facilities, or planning to increase operations in the near future,” Mr Ryder said.

“A key attraction for first-home buyers is the low median house price – just over $300,000. For investors, the low vacancy rate, which has been under one per cent since April 2020, adds further appeal.”

Other notable highlights:

  • New meat processing plant
  • Largest safari park outside Africa
  • New land estates and a master-planned village
  • Proposed cable park and permanent aqua park

City of Toowoomba, Queensland

One of the major selling points of Toowoomba is its local economy, which is the second largest in Queensland outside of the state’s metropolitan areas.

There is a massive program of infrastructure development in the regional city of Toowoomba, including the $1.6bn Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.

“Adding to the city’s appeal is its attractive parks and gardens, its extensive health and education facilities, and its proximity to Brisbane,” Mr Ryder said.

“This combination of factors, along with the city’s affordability, low vacancies, and solid yields, is attracting a variety of property buyers to the region, including first-home buyers, tree-changers, baby boomers, retirees. and investors.”

Other notable highlights:

  • $12bn economy, supported by diverse sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, and resources.
  • $15bn Inland Rail Link.

Yeppoon, Queensland

Yeppoon was considered one of the sought-after locations for homebuyers across Australia. In fact, it was able to post strong results for sales and property values through 2021 to 2022.

“Overseas buyers are also eyeing Yeppoon, with the region attracting the second highest number of overseas buyer searches in Queensland in 2022,” Mr Ryder said.

“Despite this trend, local prices remain affordable, with Yeppoon and several nearby suburbs still having median house prices around $500,000.”

Other notable highlights:

  • $3bn wind, solar, and battery farms
  • $1.1bn Rockhampton Ring Road
  • $800m military project
  • $600m Capricorn Resort
  • $495m Lower Fitzroy River Weir
  • $500m The Pines Estate

Mitchel Shire, Victoria

Thanks to its proximity to Melbourne, Mitchel Shire has always been one of the go-to spot for affordable lifestyle chasers.

Its population is set to triple over the next 20 years — to respond to the demand, numerous housing estates are now under construction while vast tracts of land are being fast-tracked for rezoning by the Victorian Planning Authority.

“Most of the growth will be focussed on Beveridge where 16,000 dwellings are planned, along with an intermodal freight precinct to handle interstate freight as well as import and export container trade,” Mr Ryder said.

Other notable highlights:

  • 16,000 dwellings planned in Beveridge
  • $1.2bn Merrifield Business Park at Mickleham

City of Geraldton, Western Australia

Dubbed the largest city north of Perth, Geraldton was able to keep up with Perth in terms of growth thanks to its growing population and economy over the past two years.

“As the Perth property market rebounded strongly in 2020 and delivered notable growth in 2021 and 2022, so, too, did the municipality of Geraldton, four hours’ north of the capital city,” Mr Ryder said.

“It experienced a marked uplift in sales activity in 2021 and 2022. This was partly due to budget prices when compared to Perth, with houses typically priced around the mid-$300,000 range.”

Other notable highlights:

  • Australia’s windsurfing capital
  • Major mining centre
  • Proposed high-speed train to Perth

City of Mt Gambier, South Australia

Mount Gambier is believed to be one of the ideal regional centres in the state for property investment, thanks to its affordability and vibrant economy.

Investors can expect median house prices of around $365,000, yields of above 5%, and tight vacancy rates — these would allow them to enjoy cash flow and prospect for capital growth.

Other notable highlights:

  • $120m renewable energy plant
  • Forestry industry development hub
  • Timber plant expansions

City of Bunbury, Western Australia

Bunbury is the commercial heart of Western Australia’s southwest region. Considered as the second capital of the state, Bunbury boasts one of Australia’s biggest regional ports.

“When combined with its major industrial estates and strong transport links to mining and agricultural regions, it makes a formidable employment node,” Mr Ryder said.

“Bunbury also offers an attractive seaside lifestyle and affordable housing which no doubt account for it having a population growth rate well above the national average.”

Other notable highlights:

  • $278m Bunbury Hospital project
  • $1.25m Bunbury Outer Ring Rd
  • $800m Greenbushes Lithium mine expansion


Photo by Geoff Wols from Pexels.