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Sydney's 50 most livable suburbs

Samantha Menzies
Sydney's 50 most livable suburbs

As concerns around Sydney's house price growth continues and first-home buyers still struggle to get onto the property ladder, its comforting to know that Sydney's most livable suburbs aren't always the most expensive ones.

Also read: The real reason home-ownership is so unachievable

A new study by Domain Group ranked 555 Sydney suburbs according to 16 different indicators – access to employment, access to transport (train, bus and ferry) , culture, main road congestion, education, shopping, amount of open space, tree cover, topographic variation, cafes and restaurants, crime, telecommunications, views and beach access.

Here are the 50 suburbs which came out on top, and the results may surprise you:

1. Lavender Bay

Gold! Gold! Gold for Lavender Bay! This tiny pocket of the lower north shore is the most liveable Sydney suburb, with extremely strong scores for eating out, culture, proximity to employment hubs, shops, harbour views, topographic variation, public transport and schools. Residents enjoy outstanding telecommunications coverage, plenty of open spaces and relatively little traffic congestion. The home of Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden also gets a big tick for its tree coverage.

2. Milsons Point

That toothy chap at Luna Park has plenty to smile about – he lives in the second most liveable suburb in Sydney. Milsons Point gets top marks for culture, proximity to employment hubs, shops, eating out, ferries and buses, education and open spaces. The only below par scores are for tree cover (or lack thereof) and crime.

3. McMahons Point

It’s a podium finish for McMahons Point, the third most liveable suburb in Sydney. This place is hard to beat in terms of water views, topographical variety, eating out, proximity to employment hubs, culture and public transport. It scores very well for telecommunications coverage, shops and the number of schools in its surrounds, but the crime rate is slightly higher than nearby suburbs.

4. Kirribilli

Home to the second official residence of the PM, and with good reason:Kirribilli smashes it out of the park for its harbour views, dining scene, proximity to employment hubs, mobile and internet coverage, culture, ferries, buses and schools. It outperforms most of Sydney on shops, open spaces, and train links, too. Only the crime rate was slightly above average.

5. Waverton

The lower north shore’s domination of the top-10 list continues, withWaverton performing well above average on every measure except crime. Full marks for open spaces, trains and ferries, harbour views, cafes and restaurants, shops, proximity to employment hubs and telecommunications coverage. It’s well above average for tree cover, topographical variation, buses, schools and culture.

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6. Wollstonecraft

Named after settler Edward Wollstonecraft, the nephew of women’s rights activist Mary Wollstonecraft and cousin of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, Wollstonecraft is the sixth most liveable suburb in Sydney. It gets five stars for harbour views, trains, cafes and restaurants, proximity to employment hubs and telecommunications coverage and is average or above on all other measures.

7. North Sydney

The commercial heart of the lower north shore is a fabulous place to call home. It’s up there with the best for dining options, proximity to employment hubs, culture, telecommunications coverage, education, public transport and shops. Tree cover is about average and the only below-average score is for crime.

8. Millers Point

The top performer outside the lower north shore and the best of the city and east group, Millers Point is the eighth most liveable suburb in Sydney. Rich in history and pubs, it’s a winner for its culture, proximity to employment hubs, shops, dining out, water views, topographic variation and ferries. Public transport is well above average, and there’s open space galore. The suburb could be safer though.

9. Elizabeth Bay

Sneaking into the city’s top 10 most liveable suburbs at no.9 and second placed for the city and east, Elizabeth Bay is head and shoulders above most of Sydney for eating out, jobs, culture, telecommunications, water views and bus routes. Train access and open spaces are excellent, especially if you like water views with your morning coffee. The downsides? Heavy traffic congestion and higher than average crime.

10. Darling Point

Rounding out the top 10 most liveable suburbs in Sydney and third for the city and east, Darling Point scores highly for culture, proximity to the eastern beaches, public transport, water views, nearby jobs and telecommunications coverage. It has great eating out options, tree cover, shops and public transport. Just don’t expect a smooth run during peak hour.

11. Rushcutters Bay

With bobbing boats and harbourside parks, Rushcutters Bay locals reside in one of the most liveable places in the eastern suburbs. It scores brilliantly for open spaces, beach access, public transport, cafes and restaurants, proximity to employment hubs, culture and telecommunication coverage. It is rated well above average for just about everything, except crime and – like neighbouring Darling Point – main road congestion.

12. Neutral Bay

There’s a lot to love about Neutral Bay, which scores A’s for its cafes and restaurants, proximity to jobs, telecommunications coverage and its ferries. It’s well above average on culture, shops, views, topographic variation, buses and schools. There’s room for improvement on crime, and it’s rated average for tree cover, trains (or lack there of), main road congestion and open spaces.

13. Woollahra

It’s hardly surprising that the home of Queen Street gets high scores for its cafes, restaurants and shops. It scores consistently well across the board, including top marks for culture, telecommunications coverage and tree cover. The only category bringing Woollahra down is main road congestion.

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14. Woolloomooloo

Glitzy harbourside apartments and restaurants dominate the former docklands area at Wolloomooloo. It scores impressively on just about every measure, including proximity to employment hubs, dining options, shops, culture, tree cover, public transport, education and open spaces. As for negatives, it’s rated above  the city’s average for crime and main road congestion.

15. Balmain East

And the gong for most liveable suburb in the inner west goes to … Balmain East! While this harbourside neighbourhood doesn’t have as many shops or restaurants as neighbouring Balmain, it is slightly safer, has more open spaces and ferries, more bus stops relative to its size and much better views of the NYE fireworks. It also gets top marks for its culture, telecommunications and proximity to employment hubs.

16. Greenwich

Greenwich isn’t dux of the lower north shore, but it’s one of the area’s best all-rounders, performing well above average on every measure except main road congestion, proximity to schools and open spaces. The study identified its best features as its harbour views, trains, ferries, proximity to employment hubs and telecommunications coverage. It’s also one of the area’s safest neighbourhoods.

17. Kurraba Point

Kurraba Point, between Neutral Bay and Shell Cove, is close to both ferries and employments hubs and there’s relatively low road congestion and plenty of cultural attractions nearby. It doesn’t perform as strongly as some of its lower north shore neighbours for public transport – especially buses – or its proximity to the local schools.

18. Edgecliff

Culture? Tick! Shops? Tick! Schools? Tick! The study reveals Edgecliff as a veritable tick-fest, with great scores for just about every category. It’s close to jobs and beaches, has its own train station – a rarity in the eastern suburbs – and some parts even enjoy water views. There’s room for improvement on crime and main road congestion.

19. Sydney

It doesn’t get much closer to the action than the heart of Sydney, where residents enjoy cultural options aplenty, as well as a smorgasbord of shops, cafes, restaurants, jobs, train links and educational institutions. Tree cover is average and Sydney city is not rated well for crime or traffic congestion.

20. Cammeray

Cammeray’s best scores are for its proximity to employment hubs and telecommunications coverage. It’s above the Sydney average for culture, buses, ferries, open spaces, topographic variation and dining options. The suburb doesn’t perform as well as some of its lower north shore neighbours for shops, tree cover, water views and train links.

21. Paddington

The suburb renowned for its pretty terrace houses has outstanding cultural options, shops, cafes and restaurants, jobs and telecommunications coverage. It’s also well above average on education, public transport and beach access. The only drawbacks identified by the study were main road congestion, crime and scant tree cover.

22. Cremorne

Comfortably in the top 50 per cent of the lower north shore in terms of liveability, Cremorne’s best scores are for its telecommunications coverage and nearby ferry wharves, which are in striking distance for those on the harbour side of Military Road. It’s also well above average for culture, proximity to employment hubs, cafes and restaurants, water views, topographic variation, buses, beach access and schools. Main road congestion, tree cover and open spaces are rated about average.

23. Birchgrove

Step into the spotlight Birchgrove, the second most liveable suburb in the inner west. Its results are overflowing with top marks, from ferries, harbour views and dining options, to proximity to employment hubs, telecommunications and culture. It’s well ahead of most of Sydney for its low crime rate and nearby shops, but below average for buses.

24. St Leonards

Transport infrastructure upgrades are set to make St Leonards even easier to get to. It already has excellent train links, shops, cafes, culture and local job options. It is rated about average for open spaces, topographic variation and tree cover. There’s room for improvement on the crime rate.

25. Potts Point

If it’s culture, cafes, shops, harbour views, public transport or education you’re after, Potts Point is the place to be. Serviced by Kings Cross train station, the suburb is ultra-liveable according to all measures on the study except tree cover, crime, open spaces and main road congestion.

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26. Naremburn

Sitting close to the middle of the lower north shore suburbs in terms of liveability, Naremburn scores brilliantly for culture, nearby jobs, shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s also very good for train links, open spaces and topographic variation. The suburb has a lower crime rate than some of the its busier neighbours but it’s not rated well for education or buses.

27. Bellevue Hill

Main road congestion and lack of open space are the only areas in whichBellevue Hill performs poorly, according to the study. The affluent harbourside suburb’s best ratings are for its culture, beach proximity, mobile and internet coverage and educational options. Train access and crime are about average for Sydney.

28. Darlinghurst

Darlinghurst is overflowing with cultural offerings. It has great public transport, dining options, shops, schools and plenty of nearby jobs, too. The study rates the suburb well below average for tree cover, main road congestion and crime.

29. Middle Cove

A haven of leafy areas and wide open spaces, Middle Cove is a quiet sanctuary on the lower north shore. There’s a high level of topographic variation, plenty of educational options nearby and it rates very well for culture. Not so flash are its scores for main road congestion, train access, eating out and shopping.

30. Balmain

Once blue-collar heartland, Balmain is ultra-liveable these days, scoring top marks for its culture, cafes, telecommunications and ferry links. However the crime rate could be lower, traffic can get heavy and it could use a few more bus stops. There’s not much tree cover either but what Balmain lacks in leafy vistas it makes up for with harbour views.

31. Northwood

It’s not as showy as some of its southern neighbours but Northwoodachieves very respectable scores for everything except proximity to schools, cafes and restaurants. Shops, open spaces and main road congestion are bang on average for Sydney, and it performs very well for culture, tree cover, topographic variation, water views, ferries and buses. The crime rate is also relatively low.

32. Cremorne Point

Main road congestion, education and shops are the only categories in which Cremorne Point doesn’t rate well. It’s a high-flyer in terms of its open spaces, proximity to beaches, buses, ferries, water views, proximity to employment hubs and mobile and internet coverage. The crime rate is impressively low, there are trees all over the place and it’s close to cultural attractions.

33. The Rocks

The colonial hotspot has kept up with the times, receiving top scores for culture, shops, restaurants, proximity to employment hubs, trains and ferries. As you would expect it’s also rated above average for harbour views. The only areas in which it receives below average marks are for it’s lack tree cover and open spaces and higher than average crime rate.

34. Double Bay

Lack of open space, heavy main road congestion and crime are the only negatives identified in Double Bay. Other than that, it performs well above average in just about every category, receiving top marks for education, proximity to beaches, ferries, shops, jobs, culture and telecommunications coverage. The cafe scene, topographic variation and proximity to Edgecliff station boost its liveability score.

35. Queens Park

This little enclave near Bondi Junction is among the best performers in Sydney for cultural offerings, shops, cafes and schools. It scores very well for public transport links, open spaces, proximity to employment hubs and access to the beaches of the eastern suburbs, but it is dragged down by its main road congestion.

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36. Centennial Park

Main road congestion brings Centennial Park’s liveability score down, but the light rail should improve things on that count. Aside from that, it outperforms most of Sydney with its culture, proximity to employment hubs, shops, open spaces, beach access and telecommunications coverage.

37. Northbridge

If only there were a category for medieval-style sandstone bridges. There’s not, so Northbridge will have to make do with relatively strong telecommunications coverage and above average scores for pretty much everything else except buses, trains and proximity to schools. It performs very well for culture, shops, proximity to employment hubs, tree cover, topographic variation and open spaces.

38. Chatswood

Chatswood gets great marks for shops, eating out and telecommunications coverage. The area is well serviced by buses and trains – and will get better service with the Sydney Metro Northwest. There are plenty of educational options, but there’s room for improvement in terms of traffic congestion and open spaces.

39. Bondi Junction

As you would expect, the home of Westfield Bondi Junction gets gold stars for its shops, cafes and restaurants. It also excels in the categories of culture, proximity to schools, trains and, of course, access to nearby Bondi Beach. The suburb’s overall ranking is dragged down slightly by its scores for tree cover, main road congestion and crime.

40. Mosman

Ferries and buses are Mosman’s transport highlights – drivers will know all too well the frustrations of Military Road at peak hour. The suburb is rated outstandingly for culture, water views, beach access and telecommunications coverage. Dining options get above average scores, there are lots of open spaces and it’s leafy to boot.

41. Lane Cove

Lane Cove gets a gold star for telecommunications coverage and a pat on the back for 10 other categories, including culture, ferries, proximity to employment hubs, shops, eating out, tree cover, buses and open spaces. There’s room for improvement on education and main road congestion, and it’s further from the beach than some of its north shore neighbours.

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42. Surry Hills

Once down-at-heel, Surry Hills has undergone a renaissance, bringing it into the top 50 most liveable suburbs in Sydney. The neighbourhood gets fantastic scores for culture, buses, cafes and restaurants, shops and proximity to employment hubs. There’s plenty of room for improvement on tree cover, traffic congestion and crime.

43. Glebe

While it just missed out on a podium finish for the inner west, Glebe is still at the top of its game for education, rail links, eating out, proximity to employment hubs and culture. It gets very impressive results for telecommunications and shops. Glebe’s only less impressive scores are for crime and traffic congestion.

44. Waverley

Sitting comfortably in the top half of the east’s most liveable suburbs,Waverley gets outstanding results for its ocean views, beach access, schools, cafes and buses. It performs admirably on culture, proximity to employment hubs and shops but is rated below average for tree cover, public open space and traffic congestion.

45. Forest Lodge

Tiny Forest Lodge packs a liveability punch, rated fifth in the inner west overall. Like Glebe, crime and traffic congestion are the only areas in which it falls short. Elsewhere, it scores top marks for nearby jobs, buses, cafes and restaurants. Shops and telecommunications are rated well above average for Sydney, but it could do with more trees.

46. Dawes Point

Of course the home of the Sydney Theatre Company gets top marks for culture, not to mention, proximity to employment hubs, cafes and restaurants, harbour views and ferries. Dawes Point, which is bordered by the Harbour Bridge on its eastern side, also has excellent public transport links, but isn’t rated as well in the categories of crime, open space and tree cover.

47. Pyrmont

The inner-city suburb of Pyrmont is a winner for its culture, proximity to employment hubs, shops, cafes, ferries and light rail links. It also scores above the Sydney average for buses and open spaces. On the downside, it receives below average ratings for tree cover, education, main road congestion and crime.

48. Queenscliff

Named in honour of Queen Victoria, Queenscliff reigns supreme as the most liveable suburb on the northern beaches. Sure, there are no trains and peak hour traffic is a drag, but on most other measures it outshines its northern neighbours. The best scores are for open spaces, ocean views, access to the beach and buses. It also gets big ticks for culture, telecommunications coverage, cafes, views and the low crime rate, which drags nearby Manly down a few spots.

49. Riverview

Safe, leafy and topographically interesting, Riverview receives solid scores for most categories. It enjoys access to ferries strong mobile and internet coverage, it is close to employment hubs and cultural attractions and it has decent scores for education and water views. The only below average scores are for cafes and restaurants, main road congestion and lack of trains.

50. Manly

One of the most famous northern beaches suburbs is also one of the most liveable. Ranked second in the region and 50th in all of Sydney, Manly is a haven for outdoorsy types, with the beach, open spaces and decent tree cover. Manly’s ferry wharf is a major drawcard and there are plenty of cafe and dining options. Its lowest ratings are for main road congestion, crime and lack of trains.