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Should I buy in Belconnen or elsewhere?

By tanielle - 2 April 2011 48

I’m moving to Canberra and am trying to decide where to buy/rent. I’ve noticed that rent is pretty high so am leaning towards buying probably a townhouse or small house with 2-3 bedrooms.

I was trying to research decent suburbs but a lot of information on the net is old and so may be outdated. One suburb that seemed ok in terms of affordability without being too far from things was Belconnen itself, although I have read that surrounding suburbs are not necessarily the best.

Would anyone be able to offer me advice/opinions on Belconnen town centre/suburb and whether it is ok?

Alternatively, are there any other suburbs that are recommended or not recommended?

We are not looking to buy in the most prestigious suburb but also don’t want to buy in the worst – just something that is decent 🙂 Any help would be really appreciated as I just don’t know Canberra well at all.

Thanks in advance! 🙂

What’s Your opinion?


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48 Responses to
Should I buy in Belconnen or elsewhere?
Sproogle77 11:53 am 03 Apr 11

It will all depend a bit on how much opportunity you have to physically check out the surrounding areas before buying (as opposed to doing most of your searching through the internet, on allhomes or whatever). If you can, cruise around the surrounding areas and see what you think. There are pockets of dodgy areas, but probably more so in terms of how they look than any real risks from living there. If you find lots of unkempt looking properties with half dismantled cars out the front in neighbouring streets, probably best to look elsewhere. The dodgy pockets are pretty small (generally, go a few streets away and things change a lot) and will tend to affect resale value more so than actually being bad places to live (for the most part). Many of the big differences in property price are artificial, as the bad is generally not that bad. I live in one of the suburbs people will warn you about. There are ugly bits and you see plenty of people at the local shops whose lives clearly aren’t going that well, but they are harmless for the most part. They do burnouts in the streets sometimes and occasionally make too much noise, but tend not to stab anyone. The advantage of being in a lesser regarded suburb is that the blocks of land are big (important for my family), the housing is cheap and there is heaps of green space around. Easy access to many amenities as well.

Have a good look at the surrounding property market – internet real estate sites are good for this. If there are similar looking properties in similar condition in the same area but with quite different prices, the local neighbourhood will typically explain this. Canberra has always developed entire suburbs all at once so, aside from major renovations or rebuilds in the meantime, the architecture will be relatively similar across a whole suburb. Blocks of land have generally gotten smaller over time, so those in Gungahlin are mostly small (sometimes ridiculously so). Same for the newer bits at the south of Tuggeranong and Gungahlin, outer Belconnen and outer Tuggeranong are quite a long way from Civic, if that’s where you will be working (though Canberrans have a funny view of distances compared with those from larger cities – I have experienced the 20 or 25 minute drives being described as an ‘enormous’ distance, with attitudes suggesting something more akin to the distance between Melbourne and Sydney).

In the end, budget will be the biggest determining factor. Generally, the further from Civic (what passes for a ‘city’ in this big country town), the more expensive – but age of properties and people’s prejudices still factor in. Everyone will tell you about suburbs to avoid, though there are no entirely bad suburbs. Others will tell about the best suburbs, but some are hideously overpriced.

Just try to find the best you can in your price range, taking into account surrounding areas and amenities, the type of local environment that suits your lifestyle, needs and wants and travel routes – bearing in mind that traffic can be a hassle along certain routes (not by Sydney or Melbourne standards, but potentially painful all the same). Obviously I don’t know your situation, but if you have children or are planning to, proximity to schools, play areas and so on might be important.

Renting is far from ideal and expensive, but if you are planning to stay for quite a few years (and many people stay here for a lot longer than they ever expected to) it might be worth doing for 12 months while you get a feel for what works for you.

beejay76 10:49 am 03 Apr 11

For my two bob, I think it’s worth remembering that what Canberrans call “a long way” isn’t a very long way if you’re moving from, say, Sydney or Melbourne. I live in Gungahlin area, and it’s 12 km from the centre of Civic. It’s easily cyclable or there’s an express bus about a hundred meters away. I’d avoid Harrison simply because there’s major infrastructure problems there with regard to telecoms, but Franklin or Gungahlin itself are both fine. The “peninsula” area of Ngunnawal isn’t too bad either, in parts. But as george said, some areas are designed to be premium, and that definitely applies up here. I wouldn’t touch Forde, Crace or Amaroo with a maggoty cat. Hugely overpriced.

RegGrundies 10:33 am 03 Apr 11
Widdershins 9:34 am 03 Apr 11

We’re in Page – I think it’s a great location, close to the town centre. I also really like Aranda, Cook and Macquarie, but I think they’re all pricier than Page (especially Aranda), even just the ex-govies (it’s been a while since I checked though – look at allhomes.com.au).

I personally wouldn’t go much further ‘back’ than Page (i.e. away from the town centre, just because I’m so used to being so close), nor across Southern Cross Drive (towards Florey, where the road/house layout is a bit ‘squeezed’). Across Belconnen Way, I think Weetangera is pricey too, and Hawker has a few bits that seem dodgy (though, all suburbs do).

Rollersk8r 9:28 am 03 Apr 11

Personally I reckon whether you consider an area good or bad can come right down to individual streets and who your immediate neighbours are.

I grew up on the south side, spent several years renting in the inner north – and eventually bought in the Belconnen area. Depending on exactly where you are, Belco is still close to Civic and relatively affordable. Although if I had the money I’d be straight back to the inner north – Turner, O’Connor, Lyneham, Ainslie – and return to the good old days of walking to work.

Gerry-Built 8:17 am 03 Apr 11

Have you got a job (or other ties of some sort) here yet – is it important to you to be close to any of those? Is travel an issue? Any facilities that are going to be important to you (schools, shopping, pool, gym, lawn bowls, motorsports facilities)?

If you are going to be using public transport – suburbs nearer to a town centre would be useful (ie Macquarie or Page in Belconnen) – buses can be pretty poor here. If you have a car, then nowhere is going to be “out of the way” (in good traffic, even the most distant suburbs are under 30 mins of the city).

Personally I would avoid Gungahlin right now due to hassles with getting out of it in the mornings (and probably south Tuggeranong too). But, all suburbs are going to have their own issues – even relatively “good” suburbs see odd incidents. There are certain parts of certain suburbs you should probably avoid – but most people would have some defence in mind for their own suburb against the nasty things others might say about it. Charnwood cops a fair ribbing, but there are bad pockets, and lots of nice areas. The same could be said of Dunlop, Kambah, Isabella Plains, Theodore, Narrabundah etc. Personally; I would put Duffy, Page, Weston, Aranda on my own “choice” list… Oh, and generally, the closer in to the city – the more expensive the housing.

astrojax 8:03 am 03 Apr 11

I was trying to research decent suburbs but a lot of information on the net is old and so may be outdated.

so you post on a site on the ‘net hoping we are not outdated or old? ha! 🙂

your perspective on ‘good’ and ‘well located’ etc may of course be influenced from whence you come to our fair city. if you’re sidling in from sinney or melbourne then you’ll likely find traffic quicker in the main and distance not such a worry, nor parking. but i’d suggest looking at a map and trying to find somewhere within a couple kays of a decent shopping precinct: belco, woden, tuggers, anywhere inner north, queanbeyan – yes, don’t forget queanbeyan. it isn’t so far away (closer than south woden and tuggers to civic) and prob’ly more affordable…

also do a search on this site – we’ve covered this stuff before (it may give you a heads up on the likely responses you’ll generate)

drewbytes 7:05 am 03 Apr 11

Belconnen town centre itself is fine, as long as you don’t look at any place off Condell St or Hennessy St, especially the northern ends of those streets! For Charnwood don’t go near the northern end of Cartwright St with all those small places that come off it, or Tompsitt Ct. Apart from that, Belco is the place to be 🙂

georgesgenitals 6:45 am 03 Apr 11

Bear in mind that Canberra has areas that are artificially manufactured to be ‘premium’ – avoid these. In investment terms, look at the cost of of property you want, then find a similar property for similar dollars as close as possible to the city.

If a family area is what you want, stick to the middle of the road suburbs. Despite what some people will tell you, Canberra is largely pretty good, but has dodgy streets which you’ll need to avoid. Avoid pubic housing complexes (by many streets). Consider Queanbeyan, which is rapidly throwing off its reputation as struggle town, and has great community feel and is very safe. Avoid the very western edge of Belconnen, the inner suburbs that aren’t being developed, and be very careful if buying in Tuggeranong or Gungahlin.

ummmm_no 1:06 am 03 Apr 11

Listers_Cat said :

Opinions are like arseholes – everyone has one.

My arsehole is that there are some nice enough places in the area bounded by College St, Eastern Valley Way, Belconnen Way, and Benjamin Way, particularly towards Eastern Valley Way.

Small, but quite affordable for a very convenient location.

Listers_Cat 12:47 am 03 Apr 11

Opinions are like arseholes – everyone has one. My advice is to move here, see what suits your lifestyle first, and then buy.

Failing that, buy the type of house you want in the most expensive area you can afford.

sexynotsmart 10:39 pm 02 Apr 11

Hmmm…. poster’s name is similar to ‘Tenille’. So probably should be near ‘The Captain’.

Suggest Yarralumla (near the Yacht Club) or Fyshwick (near Ken’s Marine).

minniemay 10:36 pm 02 Apr 11

We bought in Charnwood from interstate, not knowing much of the local scuttlebutt. I’m sure we probably wouldn’t have bought here if we had, but honestly I don’t regret it. We got a nice 3 bedroom (yes, ex-govvie, but that’s most of Belconnen) on a big block, in a quiet, leafy street for a pretty good price. We have never been the victim of any crime, property or otherwise. By (limited) comparison my friend who lives in Narrabundah had her tires slashed 3 times in 2 months.

Of course there’s some interesting characters who live here, but I’ve seen the same type of characters next door to my Mum in Griffith. So, I think it’s fine.

Personally I like living northside. Belconnen markets are great, we are very close to UC and not too far from ANU, there’s the Charny carny… What’s not to like?

MrPC 9:59 pm 02 Apr 11

The older parts of Charnwood are a fantastic mix of quality construction and friendly neighbours.

dundle 9:19 pm 02 Apr 11

What do you mean by ok or good? Your question is pretty broad. Most places in Canberra are ok or good. I’d just avoid Tuggeranong and Gungahlin because they are too far away, obviously they’re cheaper and sometimes newer though. Belconnen is pretty good. Not sure what you’ve heard about the surrounding suburbs being bad, I wouldn’t say that’s the case. Places like Aranda, Cook and Bruce are quite expensive and conveniently-located. Charnwood is pretty much the only place people will tell you to stay away from (and, you know, a bad suburb in Canberra is nowhere near as awful as a bad suburb in other cities). Most things you hear will just be unhelpful anecdotes though, like this. I’d try and track down some crime statistics by suburbs and make sure you pay attention to the neighbourhood at house inspections. Other than that wherever you feel comfortable and can afford.

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