Toowoomba, Queensland’s largest inland city, is located 127 kms west of Brisbane (approximately an hour and a half’s drive). It is situated on the edge of the Great Dividing Range, at 700 meters above sea level.
First let’s take a look at the numbers that determine Toowoomba’s potential to be an investor’s choice of location.
Current population in Tooowomba is at 140,000. According to the Office of Economic and Statistical Research, this figure could blow up to 185,000 in 2013. Further projections show a population growth of 1.2% per annum, pushing the number of people between 200,000-236,000 by the year 2026.
The median age of people in Toowoomba was 38 years old, with 0-19 years old age bracket accounting for 29% of the population.
Registered marital status of people over 15 years old shows half are married (50.9%) while almost 32% were never married.
Nearly 27% of people in Toowoomba were attending an educational institution; 31% were in primary school whilst almost 14% attends a university.
Around 18% of the workforce in Toowoomba were professionals; 15% were trades workers and laborers; 14% were in clerical and administrative jobs.
Around 40% of couples in Toowoomba are without children while 42% have kids.
Type of House
Compared to the national and state-based figures, separate dwellings are high in Toowoomba at 84.2%. The rest are flat unit or apartments (10.7%) and semi-detached house (4.5%)
There are almost the same number of people who own a home (31.6%) and those who rent (31%) in Toowoomba. Meanwhile, 34% owned a home with a mortgage.
At $240, the weekly median rent in Toowoomba is lower than the state average of $300. (See chart on the next page.)
Toowoomba, being Australia’s second largest inland city (next to Canberra), has all major facilities and amenities needed to service a big population.
In terms of education, Toowoomba is known for having quality schools and colleges. There are 32 primary schools, 18 secondary schools, 1 TAFE and there’s University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba.
The city also has several facilities for healthcare, transportation and recreation.
In the last issue of Everyday Property Investing Magazine we talked extensively about the Surat Basin as a mining resources location of interest to investors. Toowoomba is the main regional centre servicing the Surat Basin and as a result Toowoomba’s economy has gained because of its proximity to the mining region. Unlike some of the towns close to mining regions, however, Toowoomba’s economy is not completely reliant on the projects brought by the mining industry. It has a diverse economy ranging from manufacturing, retail, health, agriculture, education and even tourism.
It has been termed “The Garden City” (hey, wasn’t that on Victoria’s number plates for a while??) because of its parks and gardens. Toowoomba boasts of 8,100 ha of parks and gardens, scenic views (brought by the 700 metre above sea level elevation) and hosts several festivals that draw domestic and international tourists alike. June 2012 Tourism Queensland reports, “Domestic visitation to the Toowoomba region continued to grow at a rapid rate in the year ended June 2012, as the tourism industry recovered from the effects of the flooding in 2011. Significantly, intrastate travel performed strongly, with the higher spending holiday market performing well”.
Pros and Cons
Now we get to the topic that is inevitably discussed when you talk of Toowoomba as a place to invest in.
The raging torrent that swamped Toowoomba in January 2011 is still the major drawback investors have when it comes to considering this city as an investment location.
Restorations have been done since then—as of December 2012, the Queensland government reports that significant restorations have been completed, “with more than 1,800 emergency repair sites and close to 1,100 reconstruction sites identified”. The rest of the restorations are expected to be completed in mid-2013. That big news is a plus for Toowoomba to place itself again on the investing map.
Another consideration is that most of the newer homes are in outer suburbs of Toowoomba. These areas are growing extensively.
On the upside, Toowoomba is reported to be one of the cheapest places to live in Queenland. This factor lures families to move in here and it lures investors to purchase affordable property to provide for these families.
Another plus, as we mentioned, is that Toowoomba has diverse economy that does not completely depend on mining.
Some investors may still be so spooked by the flooding that happened in Toowoomba that they refuse to look at the other factors that drive this city to be one of the investing hotspots.
If we were to look at the city’s long-term economic prospects, however, we will find out that despite the flooding, Toowoomba suffered only a minor decline in house prices. That definitely sets a statement about the potential of this city as an investment location.
The sheer affordability makes entry level investing attractive to many as brings families and people to the region further strengthening this regional location as an investment destination.