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From drab to fab: Melbourne suburbs that have upped their game



With one of the strongest property markets in the country, it’s no surprise that once-overlooked pockets of Melbourne are shaking off their old skins and becoming sought-after housing hotspots. Here’s a look at a few of the Melbourne suburbs that have risen to the challenge in recent years.

Thomastown

One of the few remaining affordable areas within 20 kilometres of the CBD, Thomastown has seen massive price growth over the past few years, as buyers are priced out of neighbouring Thornbury, Northcote and Preston.

Houses are up almost 40% since this time last year, with the average homebuyer now spending $630,000 to get a foothold in the suburb. A major drawcard is the fact that it’s an established area, with older homes on generous blocks – in contrast to some of the newer estates nearby, where space is at a premium.

Unit prices are also on the rise, gaining almost 30% since 2014, but still affordable for first-time buyers at $381,500. Many experts say the suburb has been undervalued for some time, and the current jump in property values was inevitable.  An easy commute, access to the Metropolitan Ring Road, and an abundance of public and private schools to choose from make the area attractive to both families and young professionals, while the price point is very reasonable compared to similar suburbs in the east.

South Morang

A year ago, you could snap up a house in South Morang for under half a million dollars, and the median unit price was an affordable $350,000. Today, the same house will set you back almost $600,000, a jump of 23.9 per cent!

South Morang was the fastest-growing suburb in the country at the start of 2017, thanks to the extension of the rail line and roadworks to widen busy Plenty Road.  It’s just 23 kilometres north-east of the city and has plenty of schools and child care centres, while shopping facilities include the well-equipped Westfield – currently being extended to accommodate new restaurants and a cinema complex. Still affordable by Melbourne standards, this suburb that once languished beyond the train line is sure to continue growing, in population and price, in the coming years.

West Footscray train station

West Footscray

There’s a lot of talk in the media about the gentrification of this once-working-class suburb. Traditionally home to the quirky and eccentric, its proximity to the city and affordability compared to the inner-east is now attracting higher-income earners hoping to slash their commute without maxing out their mortgage stress. The median house price in West Footscray has grown by almost 22 per cent over the past year, and now sits at a little over $900,000.

Three years ago, when the median was just $576,000, this was one of the Melbourne suburbs that wasn’t even on the radar of most buyers. Residents are currently fighting a proposed $26.4 million warehouse development, a testament to the spirit of the local community, many of whom are concerned that the area will lose its unique character as richer residents roll in.

Eastland shopping centre in Ringwood

Ringwood

In Melbourne’s leafy outer east, a domino effect is occurring, as record price growth spills over from one suburb to the next. Once the suburb of choice for those who couldn’t afford more expensive areas, homes in Ringwood are rapidly approaching the million-dollar mark, with the median house price now $900,000 – up from $812,000 just twelve months ago.

The local shopping centre, Eastland, has undergone a $665 million refurbishment, transforming it from a tired suburban mall into a fashion and lifestyle hub, complete with high-end designer stores and a new dining precinct. Meanwhile, the extension to the Eastern Freeway – which included the Eastlink toll road, connecting it to the Monash Freeway in the south-east – is helping to ease traffic congestion on the Maroondah Highway and make commuting to the city a breeze.

Craigieburn

In the Hume local government area, one of the fastest-growing in the country, Craigieburn has seen house prices rise 18.6% in the past year, with the median now sitting at a touch under $500,000.

Just 26 kilometres north the CBD, with several new housing estates to choose from, it’s popular with first homebuyers and young families – particularly thanks to the First Home Owners Grant on new builds, and the recent stamp duty cuts. There are plans underway to construct a $1.7 billion business park on the Hume Highway in Craigieburn, creating over 5,000 jobs by the time it opens for business in 2018.

It will house retail, office and medical facilities, as well as a 4-star hotel and entertainment venues. Add to that the Craigieburn Junction project, which began in September and will create 200 construction jobs, as well as 300 ongoing roles in the retail outlets. Once completed, it will boast all the major retailers and speciality stores, making life all the more convenient for locals in one of the fastest expanding Melbourne suburbs.

Not interested in Melbourne suburbs? Check out our list of Sydney locations that have gone from drab to fab!