It’s a question I get asked quite often on this website, usually more specifically linked to a particular city. So, for example, “What are the bad areas to avoid in Brisbane?”
Or “What are the bad areas to avoid in Sydney?”
It’s a really difficult, if not impossible question for me to answer. Whilst I do have local knowledge of Brisbane, I know very little about what it’s really like living in Australia’s other major cities. You certainly don’t get to explore everywhere when you visit these places for just a week or so on holiday.
It’s also difficult because who am I to judge other people’s communities? I may have heard rumours from other people that certain suburbs are ‘bad areas’, but that would just be hearsay.
Unless you have actually lived in a community for some time on a day-to-day basis, how can you judge?
So I don’t, it’s a question I never answer. But the Australian government does provide official information about this kind of thing, except they use a different terminology. They do not talk about ‘good areas’ and ‘bad areas’, instead they call it this.
Socio-economic advantage and disadvantage
Basically the government take information from the national census like income, educational achievements, employment, types of dwelling, assets, expenditures and this builds up a pretty accurate picture of anything from affluence to hardship.
Or, advantage and disadvantage.
For example, this is what they say for the whole country.
“Peppermint Grove (WA) was recorded as Australia’s most advantaged Local Government Area (LGA), followed by Ku-ring-gai (NSW), Nedlands (WA), Cottesloe (WA) and Cambridge (WA).
Australia’s most disadvantaged LGA is Yarrabah (QLD), followed by Cherbourg (QLD), Belyuen (NT), Aurukun (QLD) and Woorabinda (QLD).”
They then go on to list individual pages for each of our states and territories and give information on the most advantaged and disadvantaged areas in those states as well as separately for the major cities.
I am going to give you one example using where I live, Brisbane, Queensland simply because it’s obviously the area I know best.
- Central Highlands
- Pinjarra Hills-Pullenvale
- Fig Tree Pocket
- Brookfield-Kenmore Hills
- Chapel Hill
- Logan Central
You can then, with the wonder that is known as Google Street View, take a gander at these places.
Let’s start with the advantaged areas, this is Pinjarra Hills. You can rotate the image by clicking on the rotating icon towards the bottom right-hand side…
Yes, I do know the area very well, it’s basically countryside, with probably no more than 300 to 400 houses.
Here is a good aerial photograph of Pullenvale; unfortunately I cannot embed it, but if you click this link – https://goo.gl/maps/ElG9F – it will open in a new window.
As you can see, lots of very big houses, all on acreage, most of them with swimming pools. Pullenvale is a very affluent area.
Now let’s look at the disadvantaged areas, this is Riverview…
Now let’s pop over and have a look at Logan Central. I’ve chosen Logan Central because with fantastic timing, Google Street View grabbed their images at a time when that suburb was having what we call kerbside collections.
This is when the local council collect rubbish, usually large unwanted items, from the side of the road for free. Of course, this gives these images a real ‘disadvantaged’ look about them…
I’m not sure, but I would imagine wherever you are, you’re probably thinking these two disadvantaged areas don’t look too bad at all. So you’re probably wondering whether this socio-economic thingy is any good or not?
As a Brisbane resident I can tell you that from what I know and what I hear, this information is pretty much spot on. All the areas which they say are advantaged indeed are very well off areas. No doubt about that.
The information about the disadvantaged areas is pretty accurate as well, from what I’ve heard. I have driven through Riverview many times, it’s not what you would call a scary place though. Same with Inala and Richlands, I’ve been to these places, they don’t strike me as being that bad, but then I don’t live there.
I’ve been to and I’ve driven through much scarier places in England, that’s for sure.
How do you access this information?
So, if you want to research areas in other states or major cities around Australia, here’s what you need to do. Go to:
When you get there, on the left-hand side you will see an index like this…
If it doesn’t look like that, you need to click the plus sign + next to 2011 Census (SEIFA) for Australia (Media Release). You can then access this information for our eight states and territories and major capitals. You can see the links to each of them below the link in bold text.
There is also some older information from the previous census which you may find useful on this page:
I do hope you find this information useful as you try to decide exactly where to live here in Australia. Do remember also that if you want to find out where people who have moved here from your country generally head to, then this page is for you.
Update May 2018:
The Australian Census 2016 has now been completed, and the ABS have come up with a fantastic interactive map to help you check each suburb or town individually. Check out my post about it here: