Families ditch lifestyle homes for affordability

Families are gravitating towards affordable, city-fringe locations as cost of living pressures take a toll on household budgets.

The latest version of Domain's school zone report revealed shifting priorities among Australian families from catchments with a lifestyle appeal, such as near the coast or national parks, to less expensive locations.

Almost half of school catchment zones, which grant automatic enrolment to households within the defined area, commanded higher prices compared to the rest of the suburb not captured in the boundary.

In 2022, catchments for sought-after public schools attracted up to 10 per cent in additional home price growth compared to the rest of the suburb.

Domain chief of research and economics Nicola Powell said school catchment areas have also proved more resilient to the most recent downturn.

She said home price trends in school catchment zones reflected broader trends in the easing property market.

"We've seen more affordable areas holding up better," Dr Powell told AAP.

She also said Sydney and Melbourne saw the lowest proportion of school zones with positive growth, which is consistent with larger price falls in the largest capital cities.

"While the top school catchment zones in Sydney and Melbourne are spread across the cities, they largely favour growing areas that offer affordability, with the majority sitting below the overall median house price."

Australian Bureau of Statistics data released last week show the majority of children attend government schools, at 64.5 per cent, with around 20 per cent enrolled in Catholic schools and around 15 per cent in independent schools.

While the official data showed private school enrolments growing much faster than their public counterparts, Dr Powell said high living expenses may force parents to consider cheaper options.

"In the backdrop of high cost of living, I think those that are stretching themselves to send their child to a private school may start to reconsider that," she predicted.