Australia is a big place... in fact, it's so big, most of us don't even know some of the great suburbs and towns out there we could be calling home! Each month, we'll bring you the profile of a new location to get excited about and we'll tell you all the reasons it may just be worth a sea-change! This month: real estate in Wangaratta, the home of jazz festivals, weekend markets and more.

real estate in wangaratta

When driving from NSW regional hub, Albury, to the bustling city of Melbourne, you will be fortunate enough to pass through the small, yet vibrant community of Wangaratta.

If you're looking for a change of scenery -- a lifestyle most people want but find out of reach -- and you're smart, you'll stop by, look in the local real estate windows and see what opportunities there are for stunning properties at forgotten prices.

Wangaratta offers locals a real sense of community, combined with great leisure activities, competitive sporting clubs and easy proximity to regional hubs and Melbourne.

If you're looking to live in regional Australia, don't look past this quiet little gem.

The local community

Perhaps we're biased as country people, but growing steadily over recent years, Wangaratta has reached just the right size! At 29,000 people, it's small enough that the sense of community and warmth has been easily maintained, and it's big enough it offers good employment opportunities, and great options for exploring new interests, hobbies and sports.

real estate in wangarattaAround two and a half hours to Melbourne, the city is accessible for a day trip, and brilliant for a weekend away. Returning home to your country oasis, Wangaratta is surrounded by stunning countryside and interesting regional hubs and villages that offer intriguing exploration.

With a unique layout due to historic flooding in the north of the township, the main shopping precinct offers a range of boutiques and majors, and the area is connected easily via train to cities north and south. The local weather is quite inviting, with summer and winter often mild, and only a few days each year of very hot or cold temperatures.

What's most notable about Wangaratta is its local community. Even as a visitor, expect to feel welcome, with friendly shop owners greeting new and old alike with big grins, and cafes full of chattering families and couples. Weekend markets are a real country experience, offering stalls of local handy crafts, produce and the chance to mix and mingle in a carefree environment.

Schools in Wangaratta

Wangaratta offers an abundance of educational opportunities that mean local people can combine a country lifestyle with the chance to complete everything from trade certificates to degrees and post-grad qualifications.

With a range of quality primary schools (eight all up), families can select to take advantage of safe and relatively small public-school classes, or to enrol at the local Catholic School. A school for children with disabilities is also available.

In their senior years, local young people again can attend one of multiple schools, with Wangaratta High School reporting half of seniors go on to university or employment (a quarter each), with others moving onto apprenticeships and TAFE. The town also has two private colleges.

Following school, students can elect to further their education with two TAFE campuses located in Wangaratta, The National Centre for Equine Education on the outskirts of town, and a Charles Sturt University Campus providing an array of courses.

Employment in Wangaratta

Wangaratta boasts quite low unemployment rates, both compared to the national average and the Victorian average.

With robust medical facilities, the health sector is a major employment industry for the town (almost 15% of workers), as are manufacturing, retail and education. Outside of these areas, the local government provides interesting job opportunities from clerical roles to engineering roles, with construction and hospitality also employing almost 2,000 locals.

Taking a quick look at job boards, at the time of writing, the Wangaratta township had almost 100 jobs advertised, ranging from disability support to civil engineers, and more jobs in closely surrounding areas.

Entertainment and leisure in Wangaratta

Wangaratta is a big sporting town with four local AFL clubs which have produced national players, and strong netball and cricket competitions. If the main sports are not for you or your family, you can also enjoy soccer, horse racing and golf, or swimming in the indoor aquatic centre.

Known for keeping its finger on the pulse of art and culture, the town hosts the annual Jazz Festival, which attracts renowned international acts and thousands of attendees, and the Ovens Craft Beer Festival which is a favourite for locals and visitors alike.

Wangaratta offers a cinema with the latest releases and a beautiful art gallery, as well as stunning churches, performances and exhibitions at the performing arts and convention centre and an energetic local theatre group.

In close, surrounding areas, wine and gourmet food regions provide the perfect opportunity for weekend tastings or evenings spent soaking up the serenity. Within the town, fresh, seasonal, regional produce is the delight of many visitors and locals, with a range of finer dining options also available.

Real estate in Wangaratta

Buying in Wangaratta is a real treat because your dollar goes so much further than it does just 2.5 hours down the road in Melbourne.

At the time of writing, the average price you will pay for a three-bedroom house was listed as $305,000, with a four-bedroom setting you back just over $430,000. Rental returns are solid, with the average three bedroom asking $320pw (that's a 5%+ gross yield!), and four bedroom asking $365pw (4%+). Over the last 12 months, average time on market has been around 55 days.

Though the market has fluctuated in the state over the last year, Wangaratta continued to perform well, with a slight dip until January, when it started to improve and increase.

Older couples and families make up most of the population in the town, and according to the ABS, almost three quarters of homes are occupied by owners, with the remaining quarter renters.

Property styles vary, with new housing estates offering more modern homes, and historic, period homes also readily available. Homes on land and rural properties are also advertised in surrounding areas with very competitive pricing.

The verdict: Wangaratta is a beautiful, little town with everything most people will want. It is an exceptionally good option for families with young children or established families as it offers you the opportunity to have that big backyard, or invest in some stunning acreage on the doorstep of town, while still giving your kids access to sport, culture and education right up to uni. It provides a really nice place to grow up that allows kids to be kids and to get the most out of Australia's amazing outdoors!

For older couples, the town is also just what you are looking for. Competitive real estate prices mean your dollars go further than they would in Melbourne and other bigger regional areas. Really well-equipped local hospitals provide excellent health care options, and the size of the town means the opportunity to find and explore new hobbies and become part of a real community are right at your front door!

We drove through Wangaratta to meet a few local agents, and if it weren't for pressing appointments, we may have just moved in!