Buying an Unit in ACT Vs Queanbeyan NSW (Next to ACT)

Hi Guys

After several financial crisis due to several miscarriages happened over 3 yrs,we have a baby boy finally and have relocated to ACT where I landed with a better job.

All income is currently relying on myself and this will continue for sometime so waiting 3-4 years would not give us much savings considering unpredictable housing market.

We are looking to purchase an unit or anything but still pulling my hair off whether ACT (Belconnen, Gungahlin or bit north) is a better option than Queanbeyan NSW area

Things to consider (ACT)

Strata+rate : $5,000 up
Land tax (if rented out) : $2,000 up
Size : less than 60sqm
Age of property : less than 20 years
Rent : $300-$350
Others : safe, better infra structure, close to work

Things to consider (NSW)

Strata+rate : around $4,000
Land tax (if rented out) : none for property around 300k
Size : around 80-100 sqm
Age of property : around 50 years
Rent : $250-$320
Others : stamp duty exemption for established property, not safe compared to ACT, housing market is slowing going down at the moment, no predicted future developent

Our max budget is 310K, desired minimum 2 beds room. This will be a place ti live in for 3-5 yrs then we might think of renting it out.

Thank you for your sage advice in advance

Poll Options

  • 6
  • 5
    Queanbeyan NSW
  • 1
    Stay where you are


  • +4 votes

    If you're planning to live in the place and not have it as an investment, I would go Queanbeyan.

    Some things to consider:

    • Public transport from Qbn to Canberra sucks, unless you live near one of the bus stops and your work is near city or woden interchange BUT that's really only an issue if both people work in different places and you only have one car. If one of you stays home the majority of the time it doesn't really matter.
    • In ACT the owner organises the building report so that's one less expense when looking at ACT places
    • Units in Queanbeyan are cheap and dodgy. If you look at Queanbeyan consider a proper detached house not a unit
    • in NSW you get first home owner grant even for an existing property (I THINK - research) while in ACT it has to be a new development. So that's a plus for Qbn.
    • Where are you working? If in the city, going from Qbn the Monaro hwy can get pretty choked up in the morning, so if you can you'd be best off travelling before 8. But not really much issue travelling to Tuggeranong or Woden. If you don't want to leave that early it could be worthwhile thinking about Tuggeranong, as the Tuggeranong parkway then Parkes Way doesn't get too choked up, and prices are similar to Qbn (maybe only slightly more). Inner North or Inner South are also no issue but way way more expensive. Don't even think about Gungahlin, would be traffic jam every morning.
    • Qbn isn't as bad as they say (even though when I was a teenager we called it Queanbie-hole…). Don't dismiss it too quickly. The only real downside is the lack of public transport, other than that it's just a cheaper place slightly further away from stuff (which means zip if you're from Sydney and think half an hour is a very short commute!)

    That's it for my thoughts. Consider joining the Facebook group "Ask Canberra" if you'd like more opinions

    • +1 vote

      Thanks muchly Quantumcat! I did not much know about traffic to the Canberra city. Exemption on stamp duty and cheaper housing are the only benefits I can get living in NSW. Apart from those facts, I much prefer ACT.

      • +3 votes

        Another plus to NSW is if you already live in NSW then you won't have to lose money changing the rego on your car to ACT and changing your license over.

        In any case, you should rent a place here for a while so you can attend inspections and see how you feel. Unless you choose Gungahlin or Tuggeranong it will probably cost you at least twice as much in the ACT for the same thing as in Queanbeyan

        • +1 vote

          I heard that a rego in ACT is waaay expensive than NSW's. Luckly my plate is still with NSW but I might have to pay a penalty if I change it to ACT's as its been more than 3 month aince i got here… :(

    • +4 votes

      In ACT the owner organises the building report so that's one less expense when looking at ACT places

      Except the eventual buyer reimburses the seller for the cost of the reports on settlement. May be a saving if OP was going to get reports on multiple properties in NSW. Building reports are not required in the contract for class A units (mutli-storey type) in the ACT though, so doesn't seem like it will be relevant to the OP.

      in NSW you get first home owner grant even for an existing property (I THINK - research) while in ACT it has to be a new development.

      Close - FHOG (grant) is only for brand new homes in both. Stamp duty concession/exemption is relevant though - will be able to get a full exemption in NSW on an established property at that price point, no discount in ACT on established homes (although can likely defer stamp duty payment). Stamp duty is a bit cheaper in the ACT though.

      I also doubt there are many detached houses in Qbyn under $300k? (havent looked though)


        @djkelly69 thanks for more insights. I can probably go for $320k if needed to but its really fortunate to find any detached house for that price. Good thing is I have seen most properties have been sold under the ticketed price by more than 5%.

      • +2 votes

        Oops I missed the price range. I think the OP has no choice, there's nothing in the ACT for $300,000 except maybe some one bedroom apartments in Tuggeranong or Gungahlin. At least $300,000 will get a two or three bedroom apartment or maybe townhouse in Qbn. If it were me I would wait until my partner was back at work (I'm assuming they're a stay at home parent) and we could afford a bit more (renting in the meantime).

        Having a look I just found this: if you don't mind living in a tiny tiny miniature apartment. It should be eminently rentable, not a bad location for uni students to want to live. I can't personally imagine raising a baby/toddler/ preschooler there though :-p

  • +1 vote

    Confused: Are you renting it out or will you live in it?

    Canberra is challenging socially so living out in Q will make it even harder


      Hi Alan Laz, I will live in it until my boy turns 4 or 5. When I considering it to be an investment property, I felt a land tax will be a burden for us.

  • +3 votes

    If you have options in Gungahlin, I would consider them. Light rail should be up and running from city to Gungahlin soon (next year maybe??), which IMO will be a big plus if you are working in the city and/or plan to rent it out later on. Plus Gungahlin has generally newer and nicer properties than Belco.

    Oh and congratulations on your son!


      Thanks again! Ive looked at Gungahlin several times and I liked it there. The only problem comes with my current budget as a size of living area is too small for my little boy. If I decided to go for a bigger established unit then I need to pay a stamp duty.

      • +2 votes

        Aside from renting for a while to try and save and increase your budget, one very ACT-specific option you could look at is land rent. It is only available in newer suburbs released by the government in the last 5-7 years. You can spot them easily on Allhomes because they are the ones that look to be ~$300-400k under what they should be selling for (for good reason!).

        Basically it is where you 'rent' the land at 2% of the land value per annum, and can use it as your own (ie. build on it). You could look at either buying a house that is already built on a land rent block, or trying your luck in a land ballot to get your own land rent block and then build on it.

        Doing this should mean your repayments would be significantly lower than having a mortgage over both the house and land. Once you are in a better position financially, you can elect to purchase the land at its value at that time, and it becomes the same as any other property.

        I would strongly suggest you seek financial and legal advice if you do go down this route, as there are some pitfalls, such as:

        • very limited (maybe 3-4) lenders will touch it
        • you own the depreciating asset, and are renting the appreciating asset
        • can only sell to other people eligible for land rent (unless convert to a standard block)
        • some costs in converting to a standard block
        • only available for houses, not units

        But if it lets you get your foot in the door of a bigger house now, it would hopefully mean you don't have to move again in a few years' time and blow money on agent's fees, stamp duty, etc.

        Here is a link to get you started if you are interested.


          Please correct me if I understood wrong. We can only pay 2% of the unimproved land value per annum as long as we can afford to build a house later when bank can lend sufficient amount of mortgage.

          Doing so we can reserve a spot close to the city before the price goes crazy?

        • +2 votes

          @hanelee: There's no land rent suburbs very close to the city, and you would have to have the secure knowledge that your income will considerably increase in the near future so you can buy the land. If you're never able to buy the land then it would be a very poor investment. If you know your partner will go back to work after your child is in school then it isn't such a bad idea, at least it is less moving than renting then buying and you'll get a say in how your house is built.

  • +2 votes

    <60sqm is way too small for a young family, so I voted for Queanbeyan on unit size alone.

  • +2 votes

    Have you checked out the new apartments coming up in Tuggeranong? I thought I saw the 2br apartments for the price range you were looking for a yr back (off-the-plan)..
    Brand new apartments, the strata is lower since there's little maintenance compared to older apartments?? I may be wrong but worth checking out.


    I have a unit in Griffith (bought 10 years ago for $336k), but found living with a toddler too hard, so we started to look for a house. We thought we had a healthy budget but after 2 years of looking (albeit narrowed down to Narrabundah, Curtin, Griffith etc area) we made the call to move over the border. 2 years down the track our house has increased in value over $100k and we couldn’t be happier.
    Yes there are questionable areas in QBN but that was the same when living in Griffith. There are plenty of quality parks and playgrounds within walking distance and the centre of town has everything we need. It is definitely a family friendly area and we have t regretted the move.

    QBN is also going through a bit of a revival and money is being spent where you can see it.


    Thanks to you Ozbargainers! I am now close to purchase a brand new unit in ACT. The only concern is that public houses will be established close to where my unit will be soon.

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