Hunter's richest residents revealed

 DESPITE the mining boom providing a financial windfall for families living deeper in the Hunter Valley, the desirable seaside hamlet of Merewether has retained its mantle of being home to the region’s richest residents.

A Herald analysis of the latest Census data shows that more than 1500 Merewether households earn more than $104,000 a year – representing the highest percentage of all Hunter suburbs.

To see the full list of suburbs, click here.

It’s home to 131 households raking in $260,000 or more, but the suburb is also home to many people earning much less, and oddly makes the list of the top 20 Hunter suburbs for the number of households earning between $1 and $10,399 a year.

The median weekly household income is $1559, with an average 1.8children per family.

The recently released 2011 Census Data reveals that seven other suburbs are similarly mixed, featuring  on the list of both the 20 poorest and the 20 richest suburbs by household income.

Suburbs with a high proportion of high-income households include Muswellbrook, Eleebana, Singleton Heights, Valentine, New Lambton Heights and Singleton.

The biggest personal pay packets are being enjoyed by people living in Merewether, Muswellbrook, New Lambton, Charlestown, and Singleton, in that order.

Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore says it is not about what you earn that makes a community great, nor is income a reflection of how good a suburb can be.

‘‘It’s all about community spirit and pride in that community,’’ he said.

‘‘Take Rutherford, for example, and last weekend’s Rutherford Public School Fete.

‘‘This is a predominantly blue collar area, a close community where mums and dads went to the fete and set up stalls with items they had donated.

‘‘There are people we would regard as battlers that make a suburb great and work tirelessly for their community.’’

He said there could be a number of factors that contributed to high household incomes including more than two income earners living under the one roof.

Vicki Fetterplace of Future Real Estate, Thornton, said high income earners could help dictate the property market.

This kept the high end of the market buoyant.

She noted that Maitland’s newest suburb, Chisholm, was starting to attract the big pay packets.

There are more than 27,000 people living in the Hunter’s 11 local government areas who earn more than $104,000 per year, out of 455,000 people.

Of those, 2163 recorded a negative income, which may represent an investment loss, while 29,701 recorded no income.

At the other end of the scale, Cessnock, Raymond Terrace, Mayfield, Wallsend and Tuncurry are home to the largest number of households where annual income is less than $10,399.

Hunter Valley Research Foundation Director of Research Simon Deeming said it was not unusual for areas to have a diverse cross-section of people living together, and it was beneficial for all.

WHERE THE MONEY IS

Suburbs with the highest proportion of low income households: ( $1- $10,399 per annum) 

 1   Cessnock 

 2   Raymond Terrace

 3   Mayfield

 4    Wallsend

 5    Tuncurry

 6    Muswellbrook

 7    East Maitland

 8/9    Singleton, Charlestown 

 10    Rutherford

 11    Swansea

 12    Belmont

 13    Hamilton South

 14/15    New Lambton/Toronto

 16    Merewether

 17/18     Warners Bay, Windale

 19/20    Waratah, Nelson Bay, Gateshead

Suburbs with the highest proportion of high income households ($260,000 or more per annum)

 1   Merewether

 2   Muswellbrook

 3   Eleebana

 4   Singleton Heights

 5   Valentine

 6   New Lambton Heights

 7   Singleton

 8   Newcastle

 9   New Lambton

 10  East Maitland

 11   Charlestown

 12  Bar Beach

 13/14   Belmont/ Hamilton South

 15   Warners Bay

 16/17   Hunterview, Redhead

 18   Cooks Hill 

 19   Dudley

 20   Rutherford

Suburbs home to largest number of households earning more than $104,000 per annum:

 1   Merewether 1556

 2   Muswellbrook 1411

 4   Charlestown 1262

 4   New Lambton 1036

 5   East Maitland 988 

Source: ABS 2011  Census Data

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