Urban Living Index

Sydney is increasing in densification, but are we maintaining our status as a world-class lifestyle city?

The Urban Living Index measures the urban lifestyle of your suburb.

Check out how your suburb ranks in:

  1. Density
  2. Urban Living Index
  3. Affordability
  4. Community
  5. Employability
  6. Amenity
  7. Accessibility

Our maps include 228 suburbs across Sydney.

Urban Living Index Logo


Sydney is a global city with a very strong international brand that stands in the top listings of many measures from liveability to business performance, from diversity to climate and amenity. Sydney is also an innovative city, continually adapting to the trends and shown through its rich cultural diversity, strength in attracting investment and responsiveness to the ever-changing generations.

The challenge for Sydney’s future is to ensure that it responds to population growth yet maintains its world-beating lifestyle and that its liveability rises to match its increasing density. This is the purpose of the Urban Living Index. It tracks the five key categories that produce a measure of liveability in a city that is moving from suburban spread to urban growth and it is a tool that will measure these trends over time.

Mark McCrindle
McCrindle Research
McCrindle Logo

Over the last decade there has been a big swing in Sydney to more urban living generally in apartments. This trend is changing the very form and structure of Sydney as a city. If the current trends continue Sydney will be half suburban dwellers in detached houses and half urban dwellers in apartments in a few decades.

This shift is partly that the size of the city is now at a point where horizontal spread is becoming unsustainable, it is partly an affordability issue as land and house prices escalate, and there is also a cultural shift at play. While the data in this report will help the suppliers of urban density in the form of apartments we see it having a much broader use. The Index can be applied to the six planning regions of Sydney, as defined by the Greater Sydney Commission, and can be drilled down to 228 suburbs. We hope you find these resources very useful.

Chris Johnson
Urban Taskforce Australia
Urban Taskforce Logo

32% of Sydneysiders are very likely to recommend the area they live in to other people as a place to live.
7 in 10 Sydneysiders either have lived in a unit/apartment or are currently living in one.
Of Sydneysiders who have never lived in a high density setting, 50% would consider unit/apartment living.
More than 3 in 5 (61%) Sydneysiders would probably or definitely be unable to start over and buy into the current property market.
51% of Sydneysiders say that in three years’ time their area will be less affordable than it is today, this is particularly felt by Generation Y (56%).
More than half of all Sydneysiders (59%) say that Sydney’s housing affordability is a massive challenge for their children’s generation with an additional 29% saying it is a significant challenge.
Sydneysiders generally like their local community assets such as shops and cafes with more than half (52%) saying they totally love or really like them.
Sydneysiders are positive about the growing infrastructure, transport and accessibility of their local area, with 37% expecting it to increase over the next three years.

Sydney defined demographically

Sydney Population Growth

Sydney Population Growth

The population of Sydney is projected to reach 8 million in 2055, increasing by 3.1 million over the next 40 years. As Sydney’s population grows, it also increases in densification.

The Urban Living Index explores the suburbs that are most equipped to deal with the densification of the population and cater for the needs of people living in high density housing.

Detached Home

Detached home

Medium density

Medium density

High density

High density

Medium High density

Medium & high density

Australia 76% 10% 14% 24%
Sydney 61% 13% 26% 39%
Detached home

Detached home

Medium density

Medium density

High density

High density

Medium High density

Medium & high density combined

Mini Detached Home Mini Medium Density Mini High Density Mini Medium High Density
Australia 76% 10% 14% 24%
Sydney 61% 13% 26% 39%

Sydney is Australia’s most densified city with 39% of all dwellings being medium or high density. With more than 1 in 4 (26%) dwellings being high density, this is almost twice the national average.

The areas of Sydney with the highest Urban Living Index rating correlate closely to the areas with the highest proportion of high density dwellings.

These areas congregate around business hubs such as the City of Sydney and have been established such that the infrastructure caters to the needs of these dense populations. Such features include public transport, high number of employing businesses and a high prevalence of retail, food and recreation businesses, all facilitating the liveability and community of these areas.

Urban Living Index Explained

Measuring the urban liveability across Sydney
research sources

The McCrindle developed Urban Living Index is an ongoing measure of the liveability of suburbs in Sydney. This instrument considers the affordability, community, employability, amenity and accessibility of an area to determine how liveable it is.

The strong correlation between the Urban Living Index scores and densification highlights the use of this tool to assess the liveability of urban areas rather than the liveability offered by outer metropolitan areas.

The suburbs in Sydney are scored out of 100, each suburb given a maximum score of 5 for each of the twenty measurements. Each measure is a factor that contributes to the liveability of an urban environment. To find out more about the Urban Living Index and what Sydneysiders think on the issues of affordability, community, employability, amenity and accessibility in Sydney click here to view the report.

Urban Living Index Report

The Planning Regions of Sydney

The six NSW Planning Regions of Sydney were defined by the NSW government to assist with the integration and implementation of growth planning in Sydney. Subregions were developed to allow for cohesive and integrated planning under A Plan for Growing Sydney. Exploring the Index across the six regions assists in understanding how the regions are equipped to respond to a high density population and where there are opportunities for improvement in the quality of urban living.

The numbers in this map are the Urban Living Index scores for each planning region. If you hover over the Local Government Areas you will be able to see the Urban Living Index scores for each area and the proportion of dwellings in each area that are high density dwellings.

How does your area compare?

The map below shows how Sydney suburbs (SA2s) rate in the Urban Living Index. The dark areas are the suburbs with the highest Urban Living Index. The close correlation of the Index to the population density is due to the amenities and infrastructure that are built to cater for the needs of the large numbers of residents in a dense geographical area.

Choose categories from the “Visible Layers” tab at the top-right of the page to navigate through the different sections of each of the maps below. Ensure that there is only one layer selected each time for viewing. Viewing more than one layer at a time will lead to lack of clarity of the data. Alternatively click on the smaller maps below to interact with the Urban Living Index and high density housing maps individually.


The overall results of the 20 measures across the five categories of affordability, community, employability, amenity and accessibility indicate whether the liveability in each Sydney suburb is Superior, Excellent, Very Good, Good or Fair or below based on their Urban Living Index score.

Below are the top 20 ranking suburbs in the Urban Living Index for all of Sydney.

Rank Suburb (SA2) Index Proportion of dwellings High Density HD Rank
1 Crows Nest - Waverton 85 71% 11
1 Surry Hills 85 70% 14
3 Pyrmont - Ultimo 83 91% 3
3 Marrickville 83 40% 62
5 Potts Point - Woolloomooloo 82 92% 2
5 North Sydney - Lavender Bay 82 78% 5
5 Randwick 82 68% 17
5 Chatswood (East) - Artarmon 82 64% 25
5 Leichhardt - Annandale 82 25% 91
10 Neutral Bay - Kirribilli 81 76% 7
10 Hornsby - Waitara 81 53% 36
10 Newtown - Camperdown - Darlington 81 40% 63
13 Parramatta - Rosehill 80 82% 4
13 Darlinghurst 80 76% 6
13 Waterloo - Beaconsfield 80 75% 8
13 Manly - Fairlight 80 70% 15
13 Redfern - Chippendale 80 69% 16
13 Erskineville - Alexandria 80 56% 29
19 Double Bay - Bellevue Hill 79 71% 9
19 Bondi - Tamarama - Bronte 79 67% 18

The affordability, community, employability, amenity and accessibility of an area all inform the liveability of an urban environment. The scores derived for each of the categories of suburbs (SA2s) are combined to form the Urban Living Index. The suburbs (SA2s) which score the highest in the Index do not necessarily score the highest in each of the index categories.

The numbers in the map below are the category scores for each SA2. To view affordability, community, employability, amenity and accessibility separately please choose categories from the “Visible Layers” tab at the top right of the page, or click on the smaller maps below to interact with each category individually.

Single Category scorecard

The Urban Living Index combined category scorecard provides on overview of how the 20 measures across the five categories of affordability, community, employability, amenity and accessibility are scored

The following single category scorecard provides a measure of how areas score within each single category, with a total possible score of 20. Each of these single category scorecards comprise a fifth of the total Urban Living Index Score.