For anyone who has thought about buying land in Australia, there are several pros and cons to consider before deciding if this is a good investment.
We all have fantasies of living our lives in various places and Australia is often a place that is top on our lists as a land to discover and potentially live. But knowing that there are a whole host of various reasons why a purchase like this may or may not be ideal is important before you make such a big commitment.
Here are the pros and cons of buying land in Australia as an investment:
- pro: the weather is amazing
- pro: the language is English
- pro: high quality of life
- pro: low cost of living
- con: international travel can be taxing
- con: high property prices in some areas
- con: complicated process to purchase property
Any time you set out to make a large purchase of a piece of property, there will be challenges that arise. But buying land in a foreign country like Australia will potentially pose even more of these. Australian laws and regulations are much different than ours and understanding what you’re getting yourself into beforehand will help ensure that the decision you make doesn’t turn out to be one you later regret. I’ve outlined some areas that I think are important to consider when purchasing land in Australia and that will hopefully help you make a sound choice.
I love real estate and purchasing land, even overseas, is something I love to research. Dive deeper with me into the pros and cons of land ownership in the land down under and see if it’s a purchase that is going to be a good one for you.
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The Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Australia as an Investment
Australia…a country that brings up images of sandy beaches, koala bears, and sun, sun, sun!
Comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, Australia is a country with a rich history and tons of its own traditions.
As a stable democracy, the country is run as a monarchy and is ruled by Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952.
Known for tourism, Australia also has a strong economy. Some of its main exports are iron, gold, and oil, making it the 13th most stable economy in the world.
But the question remains – is Australia a good investment for a land purchaser? With such diverse offerings, the answer is not straightforward and there are several significant pros and cons to take into consideration when asking yourself this question.
1. Pro: The Weather is Amazing
It’s hard to deny that Australia has some of the most fantastic weather on the planet.
As an island continent, all four sides of Australia are surrounded by water. Water sports are incredibly popular in the country and sunshine rules the region down under.
Australia has four full seasons and anyone living in this country will get to explore them all.
One big difference between Australia and the United States is that the seasons are exactly the opposite.
In Australia, summer is from December to February and winter is between June and August. This can be confusing but exciting for those who want to buy some land and spend our winters in warm weather and our summers being nice and cool.
Remember, too, that Australia is a large country. As the world’s sixth largest, the weather is going to vary from area to area, from different landscapes and climates all across the region.
Buying land in the northeast of Australia will allow for exposure to beautiful tropical rainforests and a humid climate. Land in the center of the country is desert-like and much drier. There are mountain ranges in the southeast, and then of course the beaches that outline the entire country.
Regardless of what type of weather you are looking for, Australia is going to offer something to everyone.
2. Pro: The Language is English
Another reason that Australia makes for a good investment if you are considering buying land there is that you can live in a foreign country, but not have to learn a new language.
Even though Australia doesn’t have an official language of sorts, English is the most spoken. Australian English is a unique dialect that is easy to pick up and fun to learn.
Though Australian English is quite similar to British English, the Aussies use many more slang words and even profanity in their everyday speech. And, there are lots of abbreviations! Chrissy means Christmas, Barbie is a barbecue and footy is a shortened version of football.
Australia is also home to many indigenous populations, which have their own languages other than English. That said, the majority of those languages have now been eradicated and you will have no problem buying land and living in Australia if English is what you typically speak.
Just be prepared to pick up some new words to add to your vocabulary and try them out on family and friends back home!
3. Pro: High Quality of Life
Whenever we talk about the pros and cons of living in a specific place, this one must rise to the top and take high priority.
Having a high quality of life must take a myriad of things into consideration. From good and affordable health care to strong school systems, quality of life is measured by so many things.
In the case of Australia, you don’t have to worry about which ones are being overlooked. The schools are top-notch. Health care is easy to obtain and reasonably priced. Locals care about the environment and infrastructure is always being improved.
One way we can measure a country's quality of life is by its HDI, which stands for Human Development Index.
A country’s HDI is based on three things: long and healthy life, access to education, and a decent standard of living. Every country on the planet has an HDI that is based on these three areas of concern.
Australia’s HDI is .935, which is only second to Norway, which has an HDI of .944 as of the last report.
Having an HDI that is that high gives a person considering buying land in Australia a strong benchmark from which to work. It’s hard to deny that a long, healthy life, good education, and a decent standard of living aren’t all reasons to see land ownership in Australia as being an excellent idea.
4. Pro: Low Cost of Living
Along with a decent standard of living being important when we are looking for places to buy land, so too is a low cost of living.
Surprisingly, these two things don’t always go hand in hand.
It is often the case that a country (or city or state) can have a decent standard of living, but that will come at a price. Having a low standard of living can oftentimes be seen as also meaning there are infrastructure problems or other basic human needs that aren’t getting met.
But in Australia, this isn’t the case.
Though there are some areas of a person’s budget that are rising in Australia (we will get to that in a minute) many things continue to be very affordable. Foods that don’t have to be imported tend to be less expensive than imported foods in our own country. Transportation is reasonable, electricity is as well.
And I already mentioned the strength of Australia’s education and health system. Both are a top priority in the land down under and both are accessible, thanks to their reasonable price tag.
Australia has a single-payor health care system that covers all residents of the country. A levy is in place which is 2% of a person’s taxable income but is also adjusted for higher income earners.
As far as education, Australian schools are excellent and touted as some of the best worldwide. Class sizes are kept small, teachers are well compensated and valued, and an emphasis on learning being a priority is reinforced in many Australian homes. And, even the public schools are ranked on levels of private ones in other states, so all this great education comes free of charge.
If a low cost of living is important to you, there are many areas where Australia won’t disappoint.
5. Con: International Travel Can Be Taxing
Here’s one of the downsides to all this great living in Australia. If you are a foreigner hoping to buy property there, you’ll find the convenience of heading back home to be a challenge.
Australia boasts over 170 airports that provide commercial travel, and many of these are international. Though finding a flight back home won’t be a problem in itself, the time and cost involved might prove to be more problematic than you are prepared for, especially if you plan to visit family and friends back in the United States on a regular basis.
A flight between Los Angeles, California, and Sydney, Australia can be upwards of 15 hours. Another one that gets you from Brisbane, Australia to New York City is just over 19 hours.
When you factor in flight time and time zone changes, jumping on a plane to go home for a quick weekend may not be in the cards. And the price is limiting as well.
A flight from Australia to the United States can be well over $1,000, and more if the city you are traveling to or from is more remote or if you are going during a popular time of year.
If travel back to the States is not a big concern of yours, then this con may not change your decision to buy land in Australia. But if frequent trips home are something you prioritize, this may be a limiting factor in seeing a land purchase in Australia as a good idea.
6. Con: High Property Prices in Some Areas
Earlier, I talked about how the cost of living is low in Australia, but there were certain areas I’d circle back to.
Though certain needs and wants are lower in Australia than they are in many parts of the United States, there is one substantial expense that isn’t a cost savings, and seems to be getting higher…housing.
Housing in Australia is not cheap.
It’s probably not a huge shock that housing in Australia is relatively high. For a place with so many pros, like quality health care and education, great weather, and an outdoor lifestyle, it makes sense that the housing prices are not going to be super low.
Unfortunately, though, Australia’s housing market has increased substantially in the past few years and housing in the country is, on average, 87% higher than in any other country in the world.
Most financial experts suggest that you don’t spend more than one-fourth to one-third of your take-home pay on your mortgage or rent.
That’s a good rule of thumb regardless of where you live, but in Australia you may have to spend closer to that one-third number, as finding affordable housing can be a challenge.
If you are looking to buy land out in the bush of Australia, the highlands, or any area that doesn’t have easy access to the amenities found in larger cities, you’ll be able to buy more with your money.
On the other hand, if you want to be in easy proximity to a metropolitan area, expect the amount you spend on your land to be higher than normal.
7. Con: Complicated Process to Purchase Property
Finally, another potential con for buying land in Australia is that the whole process can be very complicated, especially for a foreigner.
One of the biggest hurdles from the get-go is having the Australian government permit you to buy property in the first place.
The first thing you will want to do if you are truly interested in buying land in Australia is to contact the Foreign Investment Review Board. The FIRB is the governmental agency in charge of all purchases by foreigners, be they commercial or residential.
Getting your application alone can take up to 90 days, so you will want to start the process early. Visiting the FIRB website will prove to be helpful.
This can be an exhaustive process, but worth it if you want that land in Australia.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down because of COVID-19. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling