Pete Wargent blogspot

CEO AllenWargent Property Buyers, & WargentAdvisory (institutional). 6 x finance author.

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Monday, 14 March 2016

Brisbane: Australia's coolest city

The coolest city

In 2014, the Lonely Planet guide declared Brisbane to be the coolest joint in Australia, noting that the Queensland capital is "arguably Australia's hippest city".

In Lonely Planet's own words, the Brissie of today is "an energetic river town on the way up, with an edgy arts scene, pumping nightlife, and great coffee and restaurants".

I must admit as a former Sydneysider, I often assumed Brisbane to be a bit parochial and on the small and quiet side for my liking, with taxi journeys seeming to circle endlessly around the Castlemaine XXXX Brewery, the Gabba cricket ground, Caxton pub, and Suncorp Stadium. 

Maybe that says more about what I used to come up to Brisbane for than the city itself, I'm not sure.

Certainly Brisbane has some wonderful suburbs, such as Kangaroo Point, New Farm, and Paddington, to name but three, while the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast offer great cracking destinations within a relatively short distance. 

I suppose almost by definition the largest cities don't so easily get qualified as "cool", since the word infers a kind of unruffled, relaxed sophistication, a self-assurance in being comfortably different. 

And let's face it smaller cities can to some extent tend to be disadvantaged culturally, while being less multicultural and diverse. And Bris ticks all of the above boxes, though this is noticeably changing.

Such is the nature of many growing secondary cities, I suppose, and advantages can sometimes also be disadvantages in disguise.

Take Brisbane's typically fabulous sub-tropical climate. It's absolutely superb up here for most of the year, particularly from about April forth when the cities further down the east coast become comparatively cold and drizzly, while Brisbane remains defiantly and beautifully warm and sunny.

On the flip side, for about six weeks through January and February the Queensland mercury and humidity can edge up to brutally high levels, while the state can admittedly be somewhat prone to awkward events like epic thunderstorms, thick fire haze, and occasionally severe flooding. 

In fact, I just took this photo a moment ago at Mount Coot-tha, and it looks as though we could be set for a bit of a hit tonight.

You might also be just about able to make out something else from the photo above: Brisbane is getting bigger, a country town no longer.

There are presently cranes all over the inner city horizon, both for commercial and residential developments.

I was down at the South Bank on Saturday night en route to watching a gig, and it's been interesting to note over time how some of the nearby formerly industrial inner suburbs are becoming increasingly popular...and populated. 

In fact, the South Bank, South Brisbane and West End were all absolutely pumping on Saturday evening.

I note in passing that being in my late thirties I really don't get out of the Central Business District after dark all that often, but I was astonished to see West End in particular positively humming with activity into the early hours.

I've noticed similar trends on a more modest scale in other inner industrial suburbs such as Newstead and Fortitude Valley. 

Don't get me wrong, these are not suburbs within which I would choose to buy an apartment any time soon since construction activity is in overdrive, and unit oversupply is already well and truly baked in (no charts in this blog post, I promise, but you know I got 'em - the ratio of new to existing stock is excessively high).

Indeed, these inner city property markets will be heavily tilted in favour of renters over landlords in the next few years, but the idea that they are "ghost towns" or "ghettos" as some clods have claimed is laughable.

These regenerating inner suburbs can in time become great places to live for renters in the 20 to 35 year old age bracket, though much of the new style accommodation generally looks less favourable for families.

Incidentally, the gig was The Charlatans, the indie rock stalwarts of Britain's Madchester scene playing Max Watt's on Boundary Street.

Atmospheric live venues, including boutique brewery pubs and bars, is one area where Brisbane can potentially steal an edge on some other cities. 

Top night out, don't manage too many of those these days!

Watch out for interstate migration into Queensland picking up over the next couple of years, as Sydneysiders tire of dense traffic and high house prices. 

While houses close to the city are of course often expensive in Brisbane, unlike in some other capital cities you don't have to travel beyond the black stump for house prices to become more affordable.


A fairly interesting week ahead, with the February Labour Force figures taking centre stage.

The market expects to see +12,000 jobs added, with forecasts ranging from +3,000 to +25,000, while unemployment is expected to come in at 6 per cent.

The forecasts for the unemployment rate range all the way from 5.8 per cent to 6.2 per cent, which tells you something about the unpredictability of monthly surveys! 

There will be some other interesting releases this week, such as new motor vehicles sales, but Thursday's job data will definitely be the biggie. 


Sydney's inner suburbs continue their exceptionally strong run of results, with preliminary auction clearance rates of in the boomtime 78 to 85 per cent range for the eastern suburbs, lower north shore, and the inner west.