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Small capital cities lead rental growth with double-digit rise

By Bianca Dabu
19 May 2021 | 9 minute read
Darwin aerial reb

While Sydney and Melbourne’s rental markets continue to struggle, the smaller capital cities are thriving, having achieved massive growth in the past 12 months.

Darwin emerged as the strongest capital city rental market over the year, with house rents increasing by 24.2 per cent and unit rents increasing by 20.2 per cent in the 12 months to 12 May 2021, according to new research from Domain.

This was closely followed by Perth, where house rents saw a 16.7 per cent growth while unit rents saw 14.6 per cent.

In contrast, Melbourne house rents have declined by 5.2 per cent during the same period, while its unit rents fell by an even larger 11 per cent.

Sydney’s rental growth was also lacklustre, with house rents increasing by only 2.4 per cent and unit rents decreasing by 5.7 per cent.

Still, the NSW capital continued to hold the title as the second-most expensive capital city rental market, with median house rent at $663.4 and median unit rent at $453.1 — surpassing the capital city average of $55 and $411, respectively. It follows Canberra, where median house rent is at $690.6 and median unit rent is at $492.7.

On the other hand, Melbourne has slid down to become one of the most affordable capital cities to rent in Australia.

“It was only mid-2020 Melbourne was the third-most expensive city to rent a unit, behind Sydney and Canberra,” Domain’s senior research analyst, Dr Nicola Powell, pointed out.

Melbourne’s median house rents currently average at $506.8, the fourth-most affordable following Brisbane’s $492, Hobart’s $467 and Adelaide’s $436.7.

Meanwhile, Melbourne’s median unit rent was the second-most affordable at $362.3, followed only by Adelaide at $333.8.

City v city

Following Darwin and Perth, Canberra also dominated house rent growth with a 10 per cent rise annually, followed by Hobart with 8.5 per cent, Brisbane with 7.6 per cent and Adelaide with 7 per cent.

Unit rents, meanwhile, were a little weaker, with the third-highest growth seen across Canberra at 5.6 per cent, followed by Adelaide at 5.1 per cent, Brisbane at 2.7 per cent and Hobart at 2 per cent.

Here’s how much the average property costs to rent in each capital city:

Sydney
Houses: $663.4
Units: $453.1

Melbourne
Houses: $506.8
Units: $362.2

Brisbane
House: $492.0
Units: $387.3

Perth
House: $521.8
Units: $394.6

Adelaide
House: $436.7
Units: $333.8

Canberra
Houses: $690.6
Units: $492.7

Darwin
Houses: $597.2
Units: $425.7

Hobart
Houses: $467.4
Units: $404.2

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