Monopoly for the real world

Monopoly for the real world

Prepare to win (and win, and win)

See what happens when Monopoly gets a 2016 makeover.

Few games have inspired more bitter family arguments than Monopoly. In one form or another, the popular board game has been inspiring deep-seated resentment for more than 100 years. There are hundreds of different editions of the game, with themes ranging from Game of Thrones to Metallica.

In 1990, Monopoly released its first Australian edition. The game features iconic streets and landmarks from Alice Springs, Darwin, Hobart, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. Of course, in the more than quarter-century since the local version was introduced, the landscape of Australian real estate has changed.

We examined the original Australian Monopoly edition and compared it with current real estate values, business trends and taxation structures to come up with a Monopoly edition that better reflects Australia’s 21st-century economy. We focused on commercial property leases, and so as to offer a base of comparison decided to look at per-square-metre prices for office space.Monopoly-board-Final10

View the full size board

View the original Parker Brothers Monopoly board below

Australian monopoly original board

Image: Hasbro

The lineup



Todd Street

The original: This main thoroughfare in Alice Springs is the first and cheapest property on the board. Players can pick it up for a paltry $60 and quickly turn it into a low-rent tenement.

The update: We could only find one commercial property for lease on Todd Street, and it was going for an eye-popping $590 per square metre. At those admittedly puzzling rates, Todd Street belongs among the board’s premium properties.

Smith Street

The original: Darwin’s Smith Street is the second of the low-value properties, also going for $60.

The update: We found office space on Smith Street for a slightly more reasonable $264 per square metre.



Salamanca Place

The original: This Hobart street that hosts popular markets each weekend goes for $100.

The update: Commercial space on Salamanca Place these days can be found for as low as $380 per square metre.

Davey Street

The original: Davey Street is one of the busiest streets in Hobart, and passes directly through the CBD. Monopoly values the street at a mere $100.

The update: Commercial property on Davey Street is tough to find. We had to settle for nearby Murray Street, where we were able to find a lease for a very reasonable $222 per square metre.

Macquarie Street

The original: This one-way main artery runs parallel to Davey Street through Hobart. Even with their relative proximity, Monopoly decides Macquarie Street is slightly more valuable than Davey Street, and sets the price at $120.

The update: In reality, Macquarie Street seems a bit more affordable than Davey Street, though the only commercial properties we could find were outside Hobart’s CBD. We found commercial leases as low as $135 per square metre, making Macquarie Street our Monopoly board’s least-expensive property.



William Street

The original: The game now moves on to Perth, charging $140 for this main street through the CBD.

The update: Commercial property on William Street is available from about $295 per square metre, although this is a bit outside the CBD.

Barrack Street

The original: Adjacent to Barrack Square, this street forms part of Perth’s main shopping district. Monopoly is willing to let the street go for just $140.

The update: In spite of its prime location, we were able to find good deals on office space on Barrack Street, starting at just $250 per square metre.

Hay Street

The original: Hay Street runs through Perth’s CBD, and becomes a pedestrian mall for part of its span. Monopoly values the street at $160.

The update: Hay Street tends to be one of the more expensive streets for commercial leases in Perth, but we were able to find a tiny 10-square-metre office for $253 per square metre.



North Terrace

The original: The game now moves on to Adelaide, offering this road that bounds the north end of Adelaide’s CBD for $180.

The update: The game value and real-world values now become more closely aligned, with commercial space on North Terrace going for as low as $250 per square metre.

Victoria Square

The original: The centre of Adelaide’s CBD street grid, Victoria Square goes for $180.

The update: Its central location and surrounding green spaces makes available commercial space here scarce, but we found it for around $320 per square metre.

Rundle Mall

The original: Adelaide’s pedestrian shopping district finishes out the second side of the board, and goes for $200.

The update: Retail space in Rundle Mall is in high demand, so it can be quite scarce. The best indicator we could find was a commercial lease on nearby Gawler Place for $320 per square metre.



Stanley Street

The original: Monopoly moves onto Brisbane, and this street running through South Brisbane is valued at $220.

The update: Here the game’s valuation is eerily spot-on. We found commercial space on Stanley Street for $223 per square metre.

Petries Bight

The original: Petries Bight isn’t a street so much as a geographical feature. The bight is a curve in the Brisbane River around Kangaroo Point. The game values this vague bit of geography at $220.

The update: Since we couldn’t pinpoint a specific location, we went with Kangaroo Point. We found commercial property there for the pricey sum of $475 per square metre.

Wickham Terrace

The original: This historic street is the home of a number of hospital buildings and private medical practices. Monopoly puts its value at $240.

The update: The real Wickham Terrace doesn’t come quite so cheap. Commercial leases there start at around $400 per square metre.



Collins Street

The original: Perhaps Melbourne’s best-known street, Monopoly charges $260 for Collins Street.

The update: Being situated on Melbourne’s main street comes at a steep price. Commercial leases there start at $400 per square metre.

Elizabeth Street

The original: Running the southern part of the CBD up past the Queen Victoria Market, Elizabeth Street can be yours in Monopoly for only $260.

The update: Elizabeth Street, like Collins Street, is a pricey proposition for commercial leases. The lowest we could find was $410 per square metre.

Bourke Street

The original: This east-west running street, home to the Bourke Street Mall pedestrian shopping area, goes for $280 in Monopoly.

The update: Pedestrian malls mean pricey retail space. Bourke Street commercial leases start around $440 per square metre and go up from there.



Castlereagh Street

The original: The game now moves to Sydney, asking $300 for Castlereagh Street, running north-south near the eastern edge of the city’s CBD.

The update: Again, Monopoly has gotten very close to the street’s true value. Commercial leases on Castlereagh Street start at around $350 per square metre.

George Street

The original: In addition to being the main street through Sydney’s CBD, much of George Street is being set aside for pedestrian access and light rail. The game offers the street for $300.

The update: Commercial leases vary significantly depending on which end of George Street you look. The lowest price we could find was $450 per square metre.

Pitt Street

The original: Nowadays home to the Pitt Street Mall and a trendy Westfield, Monopoly valued Pitt Street at $320.

The update: Pitt Street would now be the most expensive property on the board. The lowest price we came across was $625 per square metre.



Flinders Way

The original: Monopoly takes us over to Canberra. In spite of being less trendy than Sydney or Melbourne, the properties here sell for more by virtue of being in our nation’s capital. Flinders Way is priced at $350.

The update: Once again, Monopoly proves itself remarkably prescient. Real commercial leases on Flinders Way start at around $333 per square metre.

Kings Avenue

The original: Kings Avenue runs around Parliament House and passes landmarks such as the National Archives and Kings Park. It’s the costliest Monopoly property at $400.

The update: While no commercial properties were offered on Kings Avenue, we found leases on nearby National Circuit starting at $395 per square metre. Those Parker Brothers knew what they were doing with this one.

Railway stations


Flinders Street Station

The original: Melbourne’s sprawling train station is offered for $200.

The update: Metro Trains Melbourne lists net assets of $556 million, so $200 is a bargain-basement price.

Adelaide Station

The original: Adelaide’s main rail station can be snapped up for $200.

The update: The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure for South Australia lists its net assets at $37 million, slightly dearer than the game’s $200 price tag.

Perth Station

The original: Perth’s primary rail hub goes for the rather reasonable sum of $200.

The update: It’s hard to value a rail station itself, so instead we examined the Public Transit Authority of Western Australia. For the 2015 financial year, PTAWA’s net assets were $5.3 billion. Two-hundred dollars seems like an absolute steal.

Sydney Station

The original: More commonly known as Central Station, this main rail hub is offered for $200.

The update: Considering NSW Rail Corp posted a $215 million loss last year, you might be wise to steer clear.



Telecom Australia

The original: You could snap up Australia’s main telecommunications company, pre-privatisation, for $150.

The update: Now known as Telstra, the company’s market capitalisation is around $70 billion.

Australia Post

The original: The first of the game’s two utilities, Monopoly offers Australia’s government-backed parcel service up for privatisation for only $150.

The update: Australia Post brought in $6.3 billion in revenue in 2015, but it posted a $221.7 million loss. Add to this the service’s recent move to charge customers to pick up undelivered packages and $150 seems like a rort. The game should really be offering you money to take this spot.

Corner tiles


GoThe original: Any time you make a complete circuit of the board, you get to collect another $200.

The update: The Australia Institute estimates state governments handed out around $17.5 billion in corporate subsidies just to mining companies from 2006-2014, so $200 seems a bit stingy by comparison.

Go To Jail

The original: Landing on this square would send you off to cool your heels in prison until you could roll doubles or pay a fine to get out.

The update: Let’s be real. High-flying executives don’t go to prison. They’re quietly shuffled off with an enormous severance package. In the rare cases you do end up doing some jail time, Martin Scorsese makes a movie about you and you rake in speaking fees from corporate gigs for the rest of your life. We’re renaming this square The Golden Parachute. If you land here, you cede the property you’ve purchased but are paid twice its value and allowed to start over.

Free ParkingFree-Parking

The original: This square was the source of much debate. Was it merely an extraneous way station, or a jackpot that gifted those lucky enough to land there all the money collected from Chance and Community Chest cards? The latter answer, of course, is the only acceptable one.

The update: When is the last time you actually found free parking in a capital city CBD?

In Jail (Just Visiting)In-Jail

The original: You could breathe a sigh of relief if a roll of the dice took you to this square. You were just visiting a down-on-his-luck friend and could move on with the next turn.

The update: If you’re visiting a friend in prison, odds are it’s a low-level employee you’ve made take the fall for the systemic fraud in your company. It’s good to be an exec.



Income Tax

The original: Monopoly operates on a flat tax system, charging players $200 every time they land on the space.

The update: Conveniently, Australia also operates on a flat tax for its corporations. The current corporate tax rate is 30%. With players starting the game with $1,500, you’re on the hook for $450 if you hit this space right out of the starting gate. With some clever accounting and offshore tax havens, though, you can reduce this amount to zero.

Adam Smith

Adam has more than five years of experience writing about the Australian home loan market.

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