Erskineville’s storied past yields future investment potential

In Sydney’s inner west, the Victorian terrace-lined streets of Erskineville are proving a growing draw with their proximity to the CBD coupled with a laid-back community atmosphere.

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Just 6 kilometres from the city centre, the suburb colloquially known as Erko lies on the western border of the City of Sydney local government area, bordered by well-known localities like Newtown and Redfern.

But Erskineville’s somewhat lower profile means it’s currently offering a great opportunity for investment near the centre of Australia’s most expensive city for real estate.

Erskineville is one of the suburbs included in the latest iteration of Smart Property Investment’s FAST 50 report, which launched in February 2024.

The report and ranking drew on the insights of a 12-strong investment expert panel and recent housing performance drawn from open-source data, which aims to give unparalleled insights into the Australian suburbs that are set for future growth.

A suburb once populated by workers employed at nearby brickworks and tanning operations, Erskineville’s residences are largely dominated by Victorian cottages and terraces on somewhat narrow blocks rarely larger than 4 metres wide. With their period features and inner-city location, they’ve proven to be popular renovation projects for young professionals either modernising the property in its current layout or building up on top of single-storey homes.

Houses aren’t the only option in Erko, however, as the suburb is home to a number of contemporary apartment buildings that have increased density in the well-appointed suburb. Residents keen for a low-maintenance lifestyle can get access to Sydney skyline views in many of the medium-level high-rises that dot the historic area.

Don’t let its under-the-radar reputation lead you to think that all of Sydney’s best inner west history is confined to neighbouring suburbs; Erskineville has plenty of stories to tell through its stalwart establishments and long-standing local businesses.

First incorporated in 1872 as Macdonaldtown, the suburb’s name was changed roughly two decades later to Erskineville. Erskineville Public School, which still operates on Swanson Street, was the first large public school built after the Public Instruction Act of 1880. The 1880s building is considered a perfect example of a Victorian Free Classical style school.

In addition, Erskineville Oval, established around the same time, is still in use today for numerous local sporting clubs while offering expansive green space for locals to stretch their legs.

In more recent history, the area’s Imperial Hotel is most renowned for appearing in the movie, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, as the venue for a drag show. True to reality, the watering hole is beloved for its frequent drag and cabaret shows, and is considered a hub of the LGBTQ community in the inner west.

The suburb is now serviced by both Erskineville and Macdonaldtown train stations, with the latter recalling the area’s early moniker that paid tribute to land owner Stephen Macdonald. The name change is now thought to be due to local councillors’ attempts to rebrand the suburb with the view to attracting higher prices for property.

Whether that is the true story – or if the rename served that purpose – it’s undeniable that in recent history Erskineville prices have seen some significant increases.

The median price for a two-bedroom house currently sits at $1.5 million, while a two-bedroom unit hovers in the range of $1.15 million. House prices have increased 13 per cent in the past 12 months, while units are up nearly 8 per cent.

It’s clear that with Erskineville’s attractive amenities like multiple transport modes, walkability, nearby greenery such as the expansive Sydney Park, and vicinity to nightlife and cafes, home hunters are finding plenty to lure investors to the eclectic area. And for now, it remains a good place to get into the inner-city market.

Check out which other suburbs made the cut in the FAST 50 2025 report here.

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