Q: When is a city not a city? | A: When it’s a suburb (or a council region or a statistical division or a statistical subdivision or a…)

Often times when we are presenting our research findings we find there is sometimes confusion about the geographic boundaries we are reporting on.  Take our standard indices reporting for example, which is typically across capital city boundaries.  As a default, whenever we are reporting on capital cities we use the respective capital city statistical division boundary.

It’s easy to understand why there can be some confusion though, as most people aren’t familiar with standardised boundaries that are provided and maintained by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.  Take my home town of Brisbane as a case point.  When people refer to ‘Brisbane’ they could be talking about the suburb of Brisbane, the Brisbane Local Government Area, the Brisbane Statistical Division or more recently the Brisbane Greater Capital City Statistical Area.  As you can see from the map below, the regions are vastly different in their geographic scope and area; property market conditions will be quite different depending on which region is being analysed.

Brisbane examples

The maps below provide a further summary about which council areas and statistical subdivisions are included within each of the capital city statistical division boundaries that we report on.

The Sydney statistical division extends north to the border of Lake Macquarie, south to Wollongong and west to include the Blue Mountains.  The Sydney statistical division contains 43 council regions, the largest number of municipalities of any capital city.

Sydney LGA

Sydney SSD

The Melbourne statistical division extends out to the border of Geelong to the west, to the Bass Coast to the South, West to Baw Baw and north to the Macedon Ranges and Mitchel council regions.  There are 31 council regions across the Melbourne statistical division, the second highest number of capital city municipalities after Sydney.

Melbourne LGA

Melbourne SSD

The Brisbane statistical division contains just 5 local government area boundaries, all of which are very large compared with most other capital city council areas.  The region is bordered by the Sunshine Coast to the North, Gold Coast to the south and Somerset / Lockyer Valley / Scenic Rim to the west.

Brisbane LGA

Brisbane SSD


The Adelaide statistical division is the third smallest of the capital city statistical divisions (after Canberra and Hobart) at just 1,826 square kilometers.  The region includes 18 council areas and is bordered by the Adelaide Hills, Barossa and Mount Barker council regions to the east, Mallala to the north and Yankalilla to the south.

Adelaide lga

Adelaide ssd

Perth is home to six out of ten of the smallest local government area boundaries across the capital cities.  The Peppermint Grove council region is just 1.06 square kilometers in area, East Fremantle is 3.1 square kilometers and Cottesloe is 4.4 square kilometers.  The Perth statistical division includes 30 council areas, the third highest number of capital city municipalities.  The borders of Perth statistical division extend north to the Gingin and Chittering Shire Councils, east to the Northam, York and Beverley council regions and south to Mandurah and Murray.

Perth lga

Perth ssd


Hopefully the maps provide some more context about the regional specification of our reporting.  Capital city boundaries (and regional boundaries for that matter) are broad in geographic scope, and similarly, the housing market statistics across these regions should be considered to be fairly macro in their analysis.  For anyone involved in the industry or who is active in the market, you need to keep in mind that housing markets can perform quite differently at a more granular level (which is why we have plenty of indices available at smaller geographic aggregations including council regions, suburbs, postcodes and even streets).

Note that we are in the process of releasing our flagship hedonic indices suite across the new ASGS boundaries and our capital city reporting will eventually be across the GCCSA (Greater Capital City Statistical Areas).  Check out the ABS geographic pages for more information on the standardised geography we report on.


About Tim Lawless

Tim heads up the RP Data research and analytics team, analysing real estate markets, demographics and economic trends across Australia

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  1. Q: When is a city not a city? | A: When it’s a suburb (or a council region or a statistical division or a statistical subdivision or a…) - June 21, 2013

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