Maps expose surprise ‘wealth hotspots’

Maps expose surprise ‘wealth hotspots’

Australia’s a rich country, and almost all of it got a lot richer since the last census in 2016. These maps reveal the surprising suburbs that have seen a huge surge in wealth.

Remember the census? They sent round a form to every household in Australia last August, during Covid, and we all filled it in. They get an over 96 per cent response rate, so the data is very good.

The census tells us a lot about ourselves. Who lives where, who has kids, and who makes how much money.

Australia’s a rich country, and almost all of it got a lot richer between the last census – in 2016, and the most recent one. The typical personal income jumped from $662 a week to $805 a week (medians).

As the next chart shows, no matter what state you were in, you’re surrounded by people getting richer fast.

The biggest jump was in the Victorian suburb of Rockbank Mount Cottrell, where weekly earnings rose by over $500! The reason is the area was mostly farmland with a small country town in 2016, but by 2021 it was a suburb with a car in every driveway.

The other four suburbs in Melbourne that got richest fastest are not new developments -they are what we might call hipster suburbs. Collingwood, for example, is not a traditional place where the wealthy live. It used to be for factory workers, then has a reputation as rough and dissolute. The football team from there has a reputation for having hard cases as its fan base, but its newest supporters can probably afford the corporate boxes.

We can see a bit of a similar patten in Adelaide, where Hindmarsh makes the list; in Perth too, with North Perth; and Brisbane’s new Farm. These are not the classic wealthy places but at this rate? They could be seen that way soon.

Note this is not inflation-adjusted. With rising prices, there’s no guarantee these people are better off. Wage inflation means you’d expect to see most places rise just to keep up with the rising cost of living.

When we look at the places where earnings fell the most since last census, we find something surprising: most states don’t have suburbs where median earnings went backwards!

WA is the exception. All those mining engineers making millions on FIFO have since left.

In the other states, the smallest rises are usually associated with towns and rural areas that were not wealthy to start with but aren’t hipster suburbs either. In NSW Lord Howe Island has falling incomes, and is a likely victim of the fall in tourism.

You can see the way rising wealth clusters together on a map. And how poorer areas aren’t getting rich faster. For example, the following map of Sydney shows a big area in the west where incomes have risen very slightly since 2016, but bright red in the east where incomes are booming.

Where you live matters. The census confirms it.

Here’s the maps for the other major cities:

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