How snobbery shows in Sydney's property pecking order

How snobbery shows in Sydney's property pecking order
How snobbery shows in Sydney's property pecking order

Nowhere more than in Sydney, the city with the most valuable real estate of the nation, does the suburb you live in define you so much.

At Melbourne parties, they ask: "Where did you go to school?" followed by "What footy team do you barrack for?"

In Sydney we want to know "Where do you live?" and then "How much did you pay?"

Residents in Mount Gilead, set to be one of our newest suburbs, will become as aware of the neighbourhood pecking order as are the last few dames of the upper north shore.

It is not so much about class these days, as about perception, about how smart we see ourselves and others in the pursuit of the property prize.

Sydneysiders know their place, wherever it is, from the mountains to the harbour and coastline.

We define ourselves by the suburbs we look up to and look down on.

I was thinking about this last weekend after the sale of the Fairfax publishing dynasty's $70 million plus harbourfront home, Elaine.

For 123 years of its ownership it sat proudly in Double Bay, but for the past three years during its sales marketing campaign it has been inaccurately described as Point Piper.

Granted it sits on Seven Shillings Beach which takes in both suburbs - and doesn't have a demarkation line in the sand.

I rechecked the official Elaine lands title document and it does say Double Bay. Ok probably Point Piper holds aspirational top spot, but is Double Bay that down at heel to be disowned? 

As Sydneysiders we tend not to actually envy too many of the 650 other suburbs, but rather keep the tribal snobbery to the nearest.

There's the infamous split between the Woollahra and Paddington side of Jersey Road

Social death can lie on the wrong side of divides such as Old Windsor Road separating The Hills from Blacktown, while Burwood Heights sits on the wrong side of Liverpool Road for most Burwood residents.

Adjoining suburbs such as Palm Beach and Whale Beach, Woolwich and Hunters Hill look down on each other.

East Balmain and East Redfern are more desirable than Balmain or Redfern. 

On the train line east is always better than west on the Upper North Shore.

Tastes do change over time so the eastern suburbs beaches long lagged behind the harbourside suburbs, though in recent years the likes of North Bondi attracted a happening crowd.

There can be snobbery in reverse as when BrickX secured their recent apartment they were happy to rightly embrace it being in Darlinghurst, while most other occupants in the McLachlan Avenue block claim it's Rushcutters Bay.

Of course as we all live in Sydney, we collectively can look down on every other city in Australia.


This article was first published in the Saturday Telegraph


Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

Sydney Property market

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