Young families in their thousands are flocking to a handful of suburbs in Melbourne, leading to an explosion in the under-18 population in some neighbourhoods.
Cranbourne East has seen the biggest influx of school-aged children in the past five years, recording a 250 per cent increase, according to most recent census data.
In 2011, the number of residents aged between 5 and 17 was fewer than 1500. Now, that head count sits above 5000.
Real estate agents in the area say eight of out 10 homes on the market are selling to families and young couples, many of whom are first-home buyers.
Unsurprisingly, fertility rates in these family hotspots are also on the rise.
There are 2.76 kids for every woman of child-bearing age in Cranbourne East, the latest data shows, compared with the national average of 1.81.
The western suburbs of Tarneit and Truganina are not far behind.
The number of primary-school aged children in Tarneit has almost doubled in five years to a total of 4609.
In Truganina, the primary-school population has risen to 2775 while secondary-school children now number 1268.
Doreen in Melbourne’s far north-east has also recorded significant jumps in the number of children living in the area.
Kristy and Jay Hare moved to the suburb from Mill Park in 2009, shortly before they were married. Eight years on, the couple are now parents to six-year-old Scarlett and three-year-old Isla.
“There was a lot of younger families moving in at the same time,” Ms Hare said. “We weren’t wanting the hustle and bustle of really built-up suburban areas.
“I started my mothers’ group out here when Scarlett was born and because it is such a young family area we were all the same age, which was really good.
“It was sort of baby boom time, and still is.”
The population figures come as no surprise to Georgia Allan, a demographer with .id.
“These are new growth areas where there’s a lot of greenfield estates being built,” Ms Allan said.
She said growth wasn’t predicted to slow in the immediate future in any of the four suburbs.
“All of these areas have really high numbers of zero- to four-year-olds too,” she said.
Well-known growing pains in Melbourne’s growth corridors have raised questions about if there is enough space in schools and daycare centres to handle soaring enrolment numbers.
Good Education Group’s Ross White has analysed enrolment data in the city’s growth suburbs and said some recently-opened primary schools already had more than 1000 students.
“The pressure on mums and dads looking for a local school is amplifying, particularly in those areas where there’s a scarcity of resources,” he said.
When the Hares first enrolled Scarlett in primary school, there were no school zones. But now the Hares have been zoned outside of Scarlett’s school, so they worry where Isla will be enrolled.
In Cranbourne East, a steady stream of families are moving into the suburb each month as development estates release housing stock onto the market.
Real estate agent Matthew Ringeri said the majority of the area’s property was made up of “traditional family houses” – three or four bedrooms, two bathrooms, double garage with a backyard.
“All of the newer estates are starting to open and a lot of the older parts of Cranbourne are starting to be re-developed,” he said. “We’ve probably got six or seven estates on the go at one time.
“Houses are going up in a blink of the eye.”
Mr Ringeri said affordability was driving people into the suburb, with Domain Group data showing the median house price in Cranbourne East at $510,000.
“A lot of our buyers come from Clayton, Glen Waverley and Ferntree Gully, where they can’t afford to buy or, if they could, it would be a unit.”
This article originally appeared in The Age – It’s a baby boom: Melbourne suburbs attracting thousands of new families