Hip without all the hipsters, Clifton Hill is Melbourne’s quintessential “fly under the radar” suburb. Often overlooked due to the spotlight on falling on its hot- spot neighbours, Fitzroy and Collingwood, it would be amiss to overlook Clifton Hill for a number of reasons. Bordered by the Yarra river, flanked with wide expansive parklands and dotted with sport- friendly parks and playgrounds, locals tell us that Clifton Hill is more than your atypical city fringe suburb. For those in search of suburban charm, ethnic embrace and access to the outdoors, Clifton Hill could be your place to call home.
Clifton Hill could be described as a “settlers’ suburb”- not only is it well known for its ethnically diverse migrant population, but those who arrive are known to stay and settle in for the long haul. While areas of the neighbourhood vary, we are told it is a common occurrence for those new to the area to be welcomed by the community who have lived there for generations with vegetables and flowers from their garden. City of Yarra councillor, Amanda Stone, states that “it’s the community and connectivity that keeps people in Clifton Hill”. Aside from this, Clifton Hill is aesthetically a suburb which nods to its strong cultural and historical roots. Striking Victorian architecture is atypical of Clifton Hill, largely due to the Heritage Overlay in place- a local government driven scheme to preserve heritage buildings.
The locals’ view
Kas, a 24 year old student lives in a sharehouse in Clifton Hill and describes it as a “safe, quiet, connecting suburb”.
Q: What drew you to Clifton Hill?
A: I wanted to live in a safe suburb that was within reasonable proximity to the CBD but close to suburbs I enjoy. It is definitely an “in between” suburb so some areas are classified as being North Fitzroy or Northcote. For some, this isn’t appealing but I enjoyed it because it was a convenient distance to two places I spend much of my time in. I can walk or bike to Northcote’s High street or Brunswick st so everything is super close.
Q: What positives are there about the area for homebuyers?
A: Clifton Hill has relatively strong public transport by Melbourne standards and it is quiet and safe for families. Like most Melbourne city fringe suburbs, it isn’t a “bargain” area but there are some pockets which are more affordable while still being well connected to the city for work.
Q: What kind of homebuyer would Clifton Hill not appeal to?
A: I wouldn’t recommend Clifton Hill who is looking to be in and amongst the action. There isn’t much variation in the way of food and café/ supermarket options. And there certainly aren’t any cool bars!
Local favourite: We’ve been told local cafe, Mixed Business, has acquired a 92% Urbanspoon rating and it is well deserved. The Gingerbread waffles isn’t to be missed!
What agents have to say:
Local agent, Bev Adam, describes her home buyers as “diverse”- from first home buyers, to downsizers to empty nesters. Adams explains that Clifton Hill appeals to a wide variety of different people because it offers so much. As a small village with not much industry, buyers enjoy the quiet community feel of the area. “We are seeing two significant trends”, Adams explains, “firstly- buyers with children arriving and staying, rather than moving out east to get into school zones once their kids reach high school age”. It is the lifestyle that is attractive enough to remain and move inter-suburb, she says. Secondly, empty nesters are gravitating towards the area, attracted by the plethora of downsized, low maintenance housing options.
According to propertyDATA.com.au, the median house price for Clifton Hill currently sits at $1,140,000. Like any other north Melbourne suburb, bargain homes are harder to come by in Clifton Hill but it offers a bit of a financial cushion compared to other neighbouring suburbs such as Fitzroy (median house price of $1,279,500).
We sat down with City of Yarra councillor, Amanda Stone, to discuss its local developments, and her view on living in Clifton Hill.
Q: Why are home buyers drawn to Clifton Hill over other suburbs?
Community is a plus for home buyers in Clifton Hill- it’s great for a sense of connectivity, which would explain why there are generations of families who buy and stay. It’ s a quiet area, of relative closeness to the city and it appeals to active home buyers because of its proximity to nearby sporting fields, heritage gardens, parks and parklands, such as Merri Creek. There is also an excellent range of local shops in nearby Queens Pde which attract visitors from all over Melbourne.
Q: What kind of home buyer would suit living in Clifton Hill?
Clifton hill appeals to a range of home buyers from families who enjoy the quiet and safety and proximity to good public schools, to empty nesters and pre-retirees in search of city proximity and low maintenance town housing. Because it has a strong rental bracket, we also see quite a few students.
Q: What developments do you think the area needs to see, and what current developments should prospective home buyers need to be aware of?
There are a few apartments and multi-dwelling developments within Clifton Hill which are either being planned (such as an application for a 12 storey aged care facility on Queens Pde) or have already been built. Most of these are in former industrial sites in the south of the suburb. Transport is a key issue that needs to be addressed as Clifton Hill suffers from “rat running” by commuters from outer suburbs. It is very well serviced by public transport with a train station, buses and trams all at walkable distances. But other suburbs don’t have such a good service. Commuters are forced to rely on car travel which impacts on inner suburbs like Clifton Hill. Better, more connected public transport such as train to Doncaster and the Metro Rail Project will assist everyone.
The East West Link would have had a devastating impact on the liveability of Clifton Hill and there was very strong resident opposition to this now terminated project.
Q: What will the area look like in 10 years time?
I see Clifton Hill remaining a predominantly low rise, residential area with a strong neighbourhood character and good quality open space. It will also have small pockets of higher rise, mostly along main roads and possibly between the railway line and Hoddle St, but due to the heritage requirements, home buyers can feel comfortable moving to an area which is unlikely to see large scale development within the heritage overlay.