Where to buy a pub priced under $500,000 around Australia right now
A tree change can be made a little sweeter with a multiple box-ticker business like a country pub, especially when the price tag sits under half a million dollars.
Often combining a food and beverage element alongside a potentially lucrative accommodation component, a rural or regional hotel could be right on the money for anyone seeking a job and a home in a single deal.
Managing director of McDonald Hospitality Brokers Dan McDonald said even three years out from the pandemic-driven flight from the cities, the romance of the country remains — as does the idea of running a local watering hole.
“The buyer pool today is so diverse. We’re still seeing plenty of migration out of capital cities into these rural and regional areas. In our first week back in business for 2023 we sold three of our hotel listings,” he said.
Mr McDonald added that the regional residential property boom has been driving the demand for country businesses with accommodation thrown in.
“For both freehold and leasehold hotel listings we’re seeing individuals who may have been priced out of the residential market in some regional areas looking at hotels as genuine value. Most have accommodation for managers so if your background is appropriate and you’re keen to be your own boss, then a country hotel is a good fit,” he said.
“You’ve ticked your employment box. You’ve ticked your accommodation box — it’s a one-stop shop with regards to residential growth.”
After a year of McDonald Hospitality Brokers signing freehold sale and leasehold agreements priced from as low as $80,000 to as high as $23m, Mr McDonald said hopeful publicans with almost any budget have options.
Even hotels currently listed under the $500,000 mark offer would-be buyers a chance to get a home and build a dream business simultaneously.
“Sometimes in the same town you’ll find individual homes similarly priced to these pubs, but with a hotel you’ve usually got a manager’s residence and, depending on the property, they can be three or four-bedroom homes with private yards.
“The great Australian dream is still well and truly alive to own and operate your own pub.”
While cold beer, darts nights and meat raffles might come to mind when considering country pubs, savvy buyers are realising that beds are also a great way to turn a buck.
“There’s a renaissance happening in country hotels and we’re seeing accommodation become a real driving factor,” Mr McDonald said.
“Some really modern operators are recognising the traditional model requires a progressive influence, which may include reinventing accommodation spaces within hotels which might have been left under-utilised for years.
This could be used by any buyer, who could choose to prioritise overnight stays — or even consider longer-term lodging options.
“Accommodation is perhaps the most passive income stream in a hotel if it’s marketed and managed appropriately,” Mr McDonald said.
“It offers a real upside for these businesses because there’s no real cost of goods. You’re not buying schnitzels and kegs of beer, but rather going in and cleaning those rooms and turning over the linen.”
Having said that, Mr McDonald noted that running a pub isn’t for the faint-hearted introvert.
“The greatest trait a publican can have is the ability to relate to a broad range of clientele. Your clients want to come and see you, relate to you and relax in that environment. Traditionally, publicans were referred to as ‘gatherers’ and that’s really what you need to be.”
There are currently a number of country pubs for sale under $500,000 right across the country, here is just a handful.
Price guide: $350,000
Built in 1901, the Barham Hotel in the southwestern Riverina district sits on a popular corner block a short walk from the edge of the Murray River.
In addition to the grand main public bar, the charming country pub has a bistro, dining room, function room, lounge, beer garden, drive through bottle shop and veranda dining with views across the town.
Owners can move into the three-bedroom manager’s residence and earn a profit from the 14 hotel rooms.
Price guide: $495,000
An art deco pub on a 1126sq m corner block, Tuppal Hotel sits in the heart of Finley, home to approximately 2500 people.
Featured on the celebrated Silo Art Trail, Finley features several murals by New York-based artist Damien Mitchell showcasing some notable local identities.
Two of his murals; one of the band Spiderbait and another of former AFL player Shane Crawford, are even inside the hotel.
The pub also have a single bar operation plus a dining room, function room, covered beer garden and a three-bedroom ground floor owner’s unit.
Price guide: $495,000
An en route destination for motorcyclists and fossicking enthusiasts, Emmaville is a popular stopover spot.
With 13 rooms and two ensuite villas the Club Hotel has potential to turn a healthy profit.
As well as the travelling trade, a new tin mine set to open in the region could keep the clientele coming. There is a fully equipped bar, 60-seat dining room, enclosed beer garden, recently refurbished kitchen and a three-bedroom manager’s residence.
Price guide: $269,000
For less than the cost of a big city parking space, The Little Desert Hotel has plenty of scope for the right publican to build a business along the Melbourne/Adelaide Western Highway in Kiata.
Currently used as a residence rather than a pub, this 1882 property is ready for renovation. The one-time hotel has a large bar area with fireplace, an undercover outdoor area, pub seating area and a versatile footprint with multiple bedrooms, an office, kitchen and dining room. There is solar power and the block measures 7331sq m across four allotments.
Price guide: $300,000
For sale as a vacant possession, the Historic Courthouse Hotel is looking for its next publican.
Sitting on the banks of the Maranoa River on the Warrego Highway, Mitchell is a rural commercial centre surrounded by primary producers trading in cattle, sheep, cypress pine milling and the local quarry. Built in the late 1800s, the historic pub on 2035 sqm has scope to reopen with a restaurant, bar, accommodation, beer garden and an attached bottle shop.
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