The Future of Sydney Report

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Sydney is changing. It is growing, densifying and expanding. This McCrindle Research study surveyed 1,007 Sydneysiders in August of 2015 on their attitudes and sentiments towards the future of Sydney with regards to current population size and growth, infrastructure, planning, the house price boom and challenges moving forward.

Demographic Snapshot

Sydney is Australia’s largest city, and home to more than 1 in 5 Australians. More people live in Sydney than in the whole country of New Zealand, and its population is larger than the whole of Australia was a century ago. In addition to being Australia’s largest city, it is also the most culturally diverse with 2 in 5 Sydneysiders born overseas. While European settlement of Australia began in Sydney, the city now has connections closer to the region with 6 of the top 10 countries of birth of Sydneysiders born overseas being located in Asia.

63% of the current New South Wales population is living in Sydney, compared to 48% of Queensland’s population that lives in Brisbane. Western Sydney is growing faster than the rest of Sydney currently, and the total population of the areas that comprise greater western Sydney (2.3 million) is larger than the nations of Fiji, Luxemburg, Iceland, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Greenland, Lichtenstein and Nauru combined! By 2030, the population of Greater Western Sydney will be larger than the rest of Sydney, at almost 3 million.

Sydney’s Size

Sydney is Australia’s largest city and was the first to hit 2 million, which it reached in 1959, followed by Melbourne in 1975, Brisbane in 2008 and Perth in 2014.

Based on current growth trends, Sydney will reach a population of 8 million in 2055, the same year that Australia’s 5th largest city Adelaide reaches a population of 2 million. In fact Sydney adds 1,400 people every 6 days which is more than the entire state of Tasmania adds in a year.

While Sydney will hit the 5 million milestone in the next year and 8 million in 2025, more than a third of Sydneysiders (37%) currently think that Sydney’s population is 3 million or less. Only one third of Sydneysiders (35%) correctly identify Sydney’s population as being close to 5 million.

Sydney’s Infrastructure

More than 4 in 5 Sydneysiders believe that the public transport, roads, hospitals and infrastructure is not keeping up with the population growth, with almost half (47%) saying it is nowhere near keeping up. Just 1 in 5 (18%) say that the infrastructure development is keeping up with the population growth.

Sydney’s House Price Boom

While Sydneysiders experience higher wages than the Australian average, the wage growth has not been keeping up with the house price growth. Four decades ago the average Sydney house price was 5 times the average annual full time earnings. Two decades later, house prices had outstripped earnings to be 6 times annual wages. Such has been the house price boom that today the average Sydney house price is more than 13 times the average annual full time earnings of $77,000.

Sydneysiders don’t believe the current house price growth is being driven by first home buyers or owner occupiers, but rather by investors. 2 in 5 (41%) Sydneysiders say that Australian property investors are driving the current house price boom, while 81% say that it is overseas property investors that are key to the price increases.

Sydney’s Challenges

Clearly Sydney is an expensive place to live, and when Sydneysiders were asked what the greatest challenges of Sydney are, the top 2 responses were the cost of living (73%) and the cost of housing (59%). The third biggest challenge is the traffic and commute times (52%) followed by job / employment challenges (29%) and the pace and stress of life (29%).

These challenges for Sydneysiders are such that more than two thirds of local residents (66%) have considered moving out Sydney, with a quarter of all Sydneysiders (23%) saying they have seriously considered it.

The latest demographic data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics quantifies this by showing that Melbourne is now Australia’s fastest growing city, exceeding Sydney’s growth by more than 10,000 people per annum, and while Victoria and Queensland have consistently been experiencing net interstate migration gains for the last decades, New South Wales has over the same period been losing more people to other states than it has been gaining from other states.

Of the Eastern States, Victoria had a net interstate gain of 9,336 last year, Queensland’s gain was 5,598, while New South Wales over the same period had a net loss of 5,572.

From Sea Change and Tree Change to City Change

When Sydneysiders are considering exiting Sydney, a quarter of them are looking at a sea change or tree change within New South Wales, with another 1 in 20 (5%) considering moving to a rural or regional area interstate. However, more than half of all the would-be leavers (53%) are happy with city living, just not the Sydney life and are looking for another city interstate (32%) or in New South Wales (21%).

Sydney’s Sentiment

Sydney residents are not convinced about the direction in which their lifestyle is headed. Less than 1 in 5 (16%) say that Sydney is better than it was 5 years ago and will be even better in 5 years’ time. Overall, Sydney residents are pessimistic about the current realities and future forecasts. Almost two thirds (64%) say that Sydney is worse than it as 5 year ago, with an even larger percentage (66%) believing that it will be worse in 5 years’ time. In fact half of all Sydneysiders (50%) say that Sydney is worse than 5 years ago and will be even worse in 5 years’ time.


Watch Mark McCrindle on Channel 7 News speak about the research:

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


teacher Performance Sentiment Index ipswich lalor park census results conference presentation Channel Seven language new york times volunteering data holiday future victoria sydney event casual darwin culture entertainment volunteer TEDx communities internship Canberra Wodonga socialites toys aged care puzzle education sector curiosity royal baby Gen Z Expert brands data visualisation future proofing long weekend religion nativity scene Maxim Accounting baby name Charlotte teach home ownership online social media the great screenage giving Aussies qualitative research offenders Wellington JOMO generations NBRS social research financial dreams friendship renting school students conference home follow 2013 World Water Day training faith wealth and income distribution community PSI shifts changing face of sydney dare to dream sydney speaker typical australian residents Australian Population screenage clothing award winner social commentary repayments English greatness house price Deaths ACT Report Tuesday Trends sydneycity social analysis suburbs speaker leadersip budget australian communities forum REIV Conference Tuesday Trend Research Director paying to work presentation fears cloudy days personalities social case study future proof sector moderators guide Word Up Hills Shire Council mythbusting Real Estate children teachers Christmas presents rise of local potts point researcher suburban living blaxland The ABC of XYZ baby names australia report Black Friday in Australia hills shire analysis research report water survey ACT employers sun Jura Coffee pharmacy sunny days know the times daily telegraph the australian dream 40 million community event Do It Yourself 2012 the lucky country workplace culture Births program the hills shire millionth cancelling event unemployment who is generation z experience supply and demand young people cancel plans VET sector eliane miles group session food insecurity global non profit 1994 year 7 norwest sentiments tea Valentine’s Day Engineering Manager environmental scanning SA life public transport schools students house price rise sydneysiders Christmas Stats tips coffee mccrindle professional presenters Christmas data cars brisbane graphs population growth acf15 thrive marriages shopping centre Gen Y safe Myth food bank grandparents women suburb omnibus future of shopping news social analyst futurist 2016 census results urban living index states goals hopes Australian schools February 16 belief urban living relational meals townhouses the changing face of marrickville trends ultimo sustainable 1975 future of education car owning a home australians staying home more vegetarian couple anzac Australia street national crime rates workshop pharmacies area baby name predictions business index New Zealand youth unemployment Mount Annan-Currant Hill socialising plans keynote speaker speajer DESTEL office space communicate demographic trends office opening waverton sydney market wealth and income online shopping population milestone crime dessert teaching VET christmas trees 2014 christianity responsive entrepreneur jobs of the future digital Netflix economic SMART Queensland: QLD investor medicine New South Wales Jura Australia cash transport Caregiver holidays social issues shbc social commentator divorce resilience research visualisation train average aussie mover and shaker australian social research hello fresh government in depth interviews emerging generations public speaking gender Australian Bureau of Statistics Cobbitty-Leppington EFF high density apartments What is food insecurity? ABS trends of 2017 Macquarie University Education Future Forum income New Zeland narcissism middle class Mark McCrindle divorce rate marriage wolloomooloo Andrew Duffin care support ethnography chairty average Australian educated sydney property market society happiness emerging technologies households authenticity workforce faux-ciliser Christmas day weather summer impact christian learner celebration goal leader slideshare System's Architect Sydney’s south west Queensland change trend tuesday Sydney keynote speaker huffington post new office Christmas in Australia Scouts demographer work-life insights communications family urban taskforce challenge infographic wall vegemite small business ideas cartodb apartment VIC easy rider food research on coffee Sydney population priorities housing trends Gen X sector wide study innovation future of work property market story shopping student salary NEETs moreton bay census wage social change buildings financial future leadership workshop google mccrindle tea employmer donate visual investing FPA baby name trends careers Northern Beaches cultural diversity Australia Day eliane hunger internships ACF Social Trend participants infographic social researcher manly global generations Tasmania brand McCrindle Speakers do people still change their surname after marriage? Willowdale presentations mother's day local crows nest Territory mentor students unaffordable high density living charity Assistant Store Manager census 2016 surname stay home travelling economy hobart culturally diverse Australian demographics tv growth of sydney TEDx Speaker media commentary Skilling Financial Planning Association poor jobs builders SMSF NBRS Architecture entrepreneurs of today showreel generational trends overcast millenials house mccrinlde ACF17 workplace ease of travel micro generation alpha sunburnt country 24 million cooking Christmas day career census fail rule keeper dreaming shopper's pick forecasting 2017 Bathburst ageing population conference speaker social impact capital cities collaboration university group domestic census data daily commute mythbusters affordability environment social trends speakers pack trades learn Northern Beaches Christian School christmas 2017 Financial Planning Week alpha staff media activity mccrindle in the media prince george office princess charlotte gig economy baby names report Generation Y increasing densification volunteering CBD schools teleworking commuting rich grave decision focus groups young australians parenting bus Australian communities relevant research data home owner education research sydneysider Melbourne Western Australia keynote hornsby cica google for education focus group market research panel selfie 24,000,000 university degree Business analysis Christmas research retirement neutral bay wages perth education volunteers Research Executive global retail gen z purpose work mates cost Channel 7 living healthy future Love australia media Royals define hills house prices events monarchy employment marketing community engagement seasons greetings TED talk friends demography energy cold church money ACF2017 housing affordability professional logan public speaker networking baby names 23 million criminal education future christmas Australian community trends James Ward fresh child care Sydney financial McCrindle Keynote Speakers Geoff Brailey royal influence tableau social life event wealth distribution interactive land of the middle class housing market Australian Trends cancelling plans balance REIV National Conference surnames intern demographic transformations communication storytelling low density demographic speakers not for profit research dream nfp generation high school research pack growth property price ashley fell aussie culture video trends of 2016 work HR ACF 2016 apartments Christchurch bondi debate sector wide city ashley mckenzie learning personal growth data global financial crisis SRE sports parents baby boomers product politics entrepreneurial annual income wealth population map Northern beaches Event financial planning NSW earn property development post rationalism megatrends South Australia CPI facts generation Z kate middleton seasons 2016 Christmas season happy holidays families population meetings conferences real Black Friday capital city organisational culture proactive leadership gig January 26th Adelaide Merry Christmas cost of living Australian Families brand experience Australian Dream debt GPO equip Kirsten Brewer twentyseventeen aged care professional development wealth inequality pyrmont renter of the future baby boom media release Christmas lunch gold coast live the dream gen alpha learning styles deloitte urban development menai trends analyst village educhat weekly earnings winter blues trend the average aussie research services 2015 TDE litter Australian Census financial fears Australian Home Crime Rates finance business performance customer education future report easter report Generation X Australians 2016 census social shifts tuesday mortgage faux-cilise screenagers state McCrindle Speaker Sydney Lifestyle Study rental stress charities 2020 FOMO ferry emerging trends snapshot contiki organisations 1980 housing Lower Hunter school satisfaction millennials etiquette #censusfail innovative NFP event faux-cilising quote social lives lifestyle internet motivate world demographics business woolworths insight engagement royal family local communities future-proof donation ageing australian community trends report TED "know the times" in the media Res Vis national private wealth Real Estate Institute of Victoria The Daily Edition professional services research HSC stats not-for-profit earning survey design visualisation skills coffee lovers year 12 newspaper property housing growth national wealth professional speaker australian real estate names mobile forecast poker master micro apartments household consumer engage commute high density 1968 cultural diveristy weather employmee australian communities trends report rain rising house prices DIY travel wellbeing work from home not for profit rent local community optimistic forum social researchers 10 years Elderslie-Harrington park public holiday recap spirituality dreams going out tertiary education identity father's day optus baby social enquiry NT study mccrindle research commuters technology Lower Hunter Region mateship click award breakfast bureau staying in urban data analyst geomapping maiden names Aussie Financial Planning Association of Australia investment australian the hills McCridle US results consumerism royal Vocational education men Northern Territory Work place TAS thought leadership spend statistics Australian Communities Trends Hunter Valley financial independence Australia Day 2017 Sydney Hills Business Chamber sydney metro younger generations wedding Wagga Wagga publication list Mark McCrindle in the media Population Clock optus my business awards infographics mining boom Kiwi affordable winter growing population earnings sydney hills Duchess of Cambridge IT Specialists world youth day Retail digital economy WA youth school average sydneysider society trends choice workers resource tattoos collaborative Hornsby Shire Council Black Friday Sales maiden outsourcing