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The Pom Queen

Melbourne Rentals the Cheapest

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IT IS now cheaper to rent in Melbourne than most other Australian cities.

Weekly asking rents in Darwin ($700), Canberra ($485), Perth ($450) and even Brisbane ($380) now outstrip the southern capital, new figures show.

In Melbourne, median rents for houses stayed flat over the September quarter, at $360 per week. By contrast, Sydney's hit a record high of $520 per week.

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However, in popular suburbs such as Albert Park, Kew and Balwyn, rents still rose sharply, according to Australian Property Monitors' September quarter figures.

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Data from analysts SQM Research show Melbourne's vacancy rate was 2.8 per cent in August. Anything below 3 per cent is considered to favour landlords.

While the sluggish rental market was good for Melbourne's tenants, it meant property ''investors were quite disinterested in that market at the moment,'' Australian Property Monitors economist Andrew Wilson said.

Median rents in Darwin have hit $700 a week, a massive jump of 27 per cent over the year.

In Sydney, strong competition for rental properties was driving prices to record levels.

Unit rents in Edgecliff, Woolloomooloo, Leichhardt and Darlinghurst rose between 6 per cent and 9 per cent. But the rise was not uniform, rents fell in Glebe and Haymarket.

First home buyers were putting off buying and instead turning to the rental market, Mr Wilson said. ''That means there's more demand ... and that's one of the factors that has driven up house rents,'' he said.

''A shortage of houses and an increase in competition from tenants for what is available has put upwards pressure on rents.''

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If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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