Being die-hard, would-be, proud South Africans, Australia is often a touchy point. There are those who have lost friends or family to a life Down Under, others who have secretly smiled to see them coming back, and of course some who simply enjoy beating the Wallabies.
Still, whatever the reason, Australia is strangely close to home for many of us. And even for those who haven’t been there, it often represents a possible substitute SA, and a place where friends can’t go on holiday without being suspected of pre-emigration scouting.
While the Other Half and I are all for investing in our mother nation, we’re also big on giving ourselves a little global financial leverage and keeping a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the rest of the world.
Hence our recent chat and some investigation into just what Aussie offers for possibly interested property investors, and the realisation that you don’t actually have to emigrate to enjoy some of the benefits of property ownership over there.
As a key entry point for new arrivals to Australia, Sydney hosts the highest population of ex-South Africans living in Australia and is one of the world’s most liveable cities with an advanced economy, effective government, polish and diversity, and a safe, clean, and very appealing environment. The flip side is that it’s also the most expensive city in Australia, with the Australian housing market itself being one of the most expensive in the world. But while the attractions of Sydney speak for themselves, there are many other places in the country where one can get better value for money property-wise and still enjoy the benefits of a flourishing first world society.
Hence the advice from many an emigration expert: before deciding where (or whether) to live in Australia, do consider buying investment property there, and if you subsequently choose to emigrate, rent for at least a year before deciding where to settle. Besides a notable recent increase in migration by people seeking a future for their children, the Rand has lost 35% of its value against the Australian dollar over the last 5 years, making this alone a worthy consideration for South Africans serious about their international buying capacity.
But what about the Australian property market itself? While housing prices in Sydney have rocketed more than 30% in the last three years, with Melbourne not far behind, other areas have shown a less marked but steady increase (a record of 79% of all properties auctioned in Australia over a single weekend in April this year were sold). The property market is further characterised by many new builds not just in the residential market but in the commercial sector too (where rentals for new spaces often comparative to existing buildings compete strongly for tenants) and the recent drop in interest rates promises to stimulate investment even more.
How then does one go about getting one’s piece of the Australian pie? Fortunately we knew just where to look.