How to Identify Real Estate Hotspots #09: Sea Change / Hill Change

By March 15, 2018Buying, Investing

Everyone knows about Sea Change. It’s been one of the biggest movements impacting on Australia over the past 20-30 years.

You can be forgiven for thinking it’s not a big factor anymore because it’s not being written or talked about much these days. But it remains an influence on the creation of real estate Hotspots.

Australians are more drawn to the beach than any other people on the planet. That’s the view of Bernard Salt, the country’s best-known expert on demographics. Salt tells us that 84% of the Australian population lives within 50km of the ocean. In a typical year, tens of thousands of Australians move to a location on the coast outside a capital city.

Being a Sea Change location in itself doesn’t necessarily create a hotspot – because there are so many of them. Some of the most iconic Sea Change locations have been under-achievers on capital growth for significant periods during the past 10 years – including the Gold Coast, Noosa and Byron Bay.

There need to be other factors in play. A powerful combination to look for is Sea Change and Transport Infrastructure. A coastal location made more accessible from a major population centre by a new motorway or rail connection has the potential to become a compelling hotspot.

In 2014 and 2015, we saw the emergence of Sea Change locations which were previously poor performers on capital growth. The key factor was a marked increase in spending on infrastructure, such as hospitals, universities, airports, seaports and roads. Examples include Cairns, the Sunshine Coast and Port Macquarie.

One great unknown for Sea Change property is the impact of climate change. If the most serious predictions about rising sea levels and increasingly severe weather events are correct, valuable seaside real estate will be adversely affected. It’s impossible at this stage to predict the level of impact, given the
uncertainty about the physical consequences of global warming. But it’s worth noting that there have been significant erosion events impacting seaside homes in Byron Bay, the Gold Coast and elsewhere.

After Sea Change came Hill Change – also known as Green Change and Tree Change.

Many Hill Changers have made the decision to get out of the city and have a more relaxed lifestyle. Given a choice between the beach and the hills, some have opted for a rural setting ….

  • Cheaper
  • Quieter
  • Less congested
  • Less invaded by tourists
  • No high-rise
  • Easier to find “community”
  • Easier to find affordable homes with privacy and space

These are all reasons why Hill Change happened. It gathered pace after the property boom took hold in the early part of this Century, once capital city and Sea Change locations started to become expensive. People wanted cheaper alternatives in an appealing environment and started to look in the hinterland

Maleny north-west of Brisbane is a classic Hill Change location. It’s an historic village in an attractive green hills environment. It’s an hour from the City. It’s 30 minutes from the beach. And it’s cheaper than the city and the seaside.

The best Hill Change locations are within 1-2 hours of a major city, have character homes and appealing streetscapes, and sit in attractive natural environments.

Many have claimed that Hill Change is not as powerful a force as Sea Change, and that Hill Change locations don’t have capital growth as strong as Sea Change.

But there has been good growth in the hills – in places like the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, the Southern Highlands south of Sydney, the Victoria Goldfields which include Ballarat and Bendigo, and the Adelaide Hills.

In 2015 and 2016 there was an upturn in the towns of the Macedon Ranges LGA north of Melbourne, including Kyneton, Woodend and Gisborne.

The Adelaide Hills, a classic Tree Change environment, had another factor working in its favour. With the opening of the Heysen Tunnels which greatly improved road links to central Adelaide, it also enjoyed the benefits of new Transport Infrastructure.

Both Hill Change and Sea Change locations are likely to grow in popularity as the Australian population ages – particularly those with good amenities such as medical facilities.

Sea Change and Hill Change locations which have had price booms:

  • Cairns, Queensland
  • Sunshine Coast, Queensland
  • Adelaide Hills, South Australia
  • Tweed Shire, New South Wales
  • Port Macquarie, New South Wales
  • Southern Highlands New South Wales
  • Mandurah, Western Australia
  • Macedon Ranges, Victoria

Find this article useful to you?

The next article in this series is How to Identify Real Estate Hotspots #10: Job Nodes

This is a joint publication of Snowden Parkes and Ryder Property Research.

It will be available on our website from Monday 16th April 2018. So check back again on our website.

If you find this article very useful and can’t wait for the next one to come out? We would like to hear from you!

Get in touch with us via email or call us on 02 9808 2944 to request a complete Hotspotting report for download.


Download a complete e-book

Leave a Reply

Join 25,010 locals

Get the latest articles straight to your inbox.