Article from: The Daily Telegraph Â By Holly Ife January 20, 2009 12:00am SYDNEY might be Australia's most expensive city but beyond the gridlock and urban sprawl are the most affordable towns in the country. Regional NSW is home to five of the top 10 most affordable towns to live, according to new figures released. Dubbo in the state's Central West is NSW's most affordable town, followed by Tamworth, Taree, Wagga Wagga and Albury-Wodonga in the Residential Development Council/RP Data statistics. Filling out the top 10 affordable towns were Victorian country towns in The Latrobe Valley, Mildura, Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton. The research compared the average household income for each state with the median house price for different regions, and calculated the percentage of income that would be spent on mortgage repayments. It named the Gold Coast, Sydney, Sunshine Coast, Perth, Ballina, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Mandurah and Mackay as the least affordable markets. The data showed 93 per cent of the average Queensland household income would be needed to meet a mortgage repayment on a median-price Gold Coast property - once considered an affordable area. But Caryn Kakas, executive director of the Residential Development Council, said even the most affordable properties were putting families under stress. "The general rule of thumb is that spending anything above 30 per cent of your income on mortgage repayments or rent is classified as housing stress," Ms Kakas said. Every one of the top 10 urban centres on the most affordable list (houses), with the exception of the Latrobe Valley, required more than 30 per cent of the average household income to meet repayments. It was a different situation in the rental market, with the Latrobe Valley, Ballarat, Mildura, Great Taree (NSW) and Dubbo (NSW) named as the cheapest places to rent a house - all requiring less than than 22 per cent of the average household income in rent.