NSW’s top earning suburbs revealed: See how you compare
Capital city workers typically out-earn their regional counterparts but Australia's new-found acceptance of remote work may be closing the gap.
Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal the median full-time salary in Greater Sydney was $1495 a week ($77,700 a year) compared to $1300 a week ($67,600 a year) across the rest of NSW.
Demographer and social researcher Mark McCrindle said a trend of Australians moving away from capital cities could have an interesting affect on salaries.
ABS figures revealed capital cities had a net loss of 11,200 people in the September 2020 quarter from internal migration - the largest quarterly net loss on record.
That included a net loss of 4700 people leaving Sydney for other parts of NSW.
"One of the great upsides of COVID has been this ability to decouple work from location and open up lifestyle possibilities we never had," Mr McCrindle said.
"People are finding they can head a bit further out and they can get breathing space on the mortgage and get more for less - and the lifestyle is there as well.
"What we now have, and it's really now the first time we have had it, is people moving to the regions but on capital city salaries.
"They are taking the job with them to the new location and that is giving them an extra financial springboard - lower costs but maintained earnings.
"It will also raise up the earnings of others in their regional areas.
"They can spend more so it's a boom for the regional economies."
The top-earning postcode area in the state, according to the latest Australian Taxation Office data from 2017-18, was Northbridge with an average yearly wage across full time and part-time workers of $146,686.
It was followed by Mosman at $143,529, Dover Heights/Rose Bay North/Vaucluse/Watsons Bay at $129,888, and Darling Point/Edgecliff/Point Piper at $127,375.
At the other end of the spectrum, NSW's lowest earners were in Perisher Valley averaging $31,272, Gallaghan averaging $38,011 and Bland/Quandialla averaging $42,786.
Mr McCrindle, principal of research company McCrindle, said several factors led to the current difference in salary between metropolitan and regional areas but a major driver was the mix of roles in each.
For example, highly-paid chief executives and general managers were typically at company headquarters in the capitals, while field officers were in the regions.
A survey of more than 1000 Australian office workers last year by software company Citrix found, however, perceptions of cities were changing.
Only a third of respondents (33 per cent) now saw big city living as beneficial to their career opportunities, down from almost half (49 per cent) before the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
More than two in five (44 per cent) said they had either abandoned their city dwelling or planned to do so because they could now work remotely.
Citrix field chief technology officer for Asia Pacific and Japan Safi Obeidullah said remote work was here to stay in one form or another.
"The genie is out of the bottle now," he said.
"We are seeing most people are looking to retain remote working as part of their working practice.
"It could be full time or hybrid (so) in some cases, don't go too far, you may need to come into the office on a semi-regular basis so that's something to keep in mind."
Australia's highest median full-time salaries were in the ACT ($1650 a week) and Greater Perth ($1643) while the lowest medians were in Tasmania excluding Hobart ($1250) and Greater Adelaide ($1284).
'BEING IN A METRO AREA CAN INDUCE A LOT OF ANXIETY'
Eight years ago Kempsey-born Kinne Ring traded her family and friends, beautiful beaches and stunning hinterland hideaways for the bright lights of the big smoke in Newcastle.
While life was good in her home town on the NSW Mid-North Coast, options for the then high school graduate with a knowledge-thirsty mind as hungry as hers, were limited.
So at 18, she moved away to enrich her own life in the hope that one day she would return home and improve the life of others.
"After completing my Bachelor of Business/Marketing I started at the University of Newcastle (UON), I began working in the student recruitment team at UON where I worked in domestic student recruitment," Ms Ring said.
"I then went to the University of Wollongong (UOW) where I worked in outreach, and in particular science, Technology, Engineering and mathematics (STEM) Outreach.
"These opportunities, and the experiences I learned living away, afforded me the confidence and ability to move back home and pursue the life I've always wanted for myself, while helping others have the same access to educational opportunities as people in bigger regional or city centres."
Now 26, Ms Ring has carved out an ambitious path to a life of sustained happiness back on the Mid-North Coast.
Having set her sights on completing her university studies and gaining critical work experience, she relocated back to Kempsey last year to pursue a job managing a new, rural-based learning centre for online and offline university students.
The Country Universities Centre (CUC) is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to empower regional and rural students to access higher educational resources. It is being established in Kempsey this year, and will open in March.
There are nine centres across the country, and each one enables students with better access to educational resources such as high-speed internet, computers and study rooms.
Ms Ring said this opportunity, alongside the chance to be back by the best beaches, her beloved family, and old friends - was too good to pass up.
"Every day I would go to work [in Wollongong] and I would think of home," she said.
"I would have loved this opportunity [CUC] at school, and I would love to talk to kids from my community about uni.
"I put so much effort into helping communities in Wollongong, but I wanted to do this in Kempsey where I feel I connect more with people I know.
"I understand the challenges the community faces, having gone through some of them myself."
Life back in the bush, in an environment devoid of parking, traffic and workplace stresses, were also big motivators behind her move.
"I hated traffic, and hated finding parking," she said.
"I think sometimes being in a metro area can induce a lot of anxiety. For me, I loved Wollongong for the proximity to the beach, and good coffee is abundant but it never truly felt like home.
"But after a few months here [Kempsey] I have my favourite spots for coffee, my brother and I love to go to Steam and Cedar in Gladstone for a brew and sandwich".
Originally published as NSW's top earning suburbs revealed: See how you compare