Armidale average wage 38K per year
Canberra average wage 85K per year.
This comparison makes the Armidale rents high.
armidale two bedroom units $200-225 per week
Sydney is $550 (crap suburb) - $750 (nice suburb)
so Armidale is 1/3 Sydney
Compared to the rest of the region, Armidale has ridiculously inflated house and rental prices. Even Tamworth is cheaper - if you consider moving there, look at Uralla instead - far nicer town, bigger land sizes and half the price (plus, it's only a 15 minute drive into Armidale, where most people will work if they work away from home) If you find a place less than $300 a week in Armidale, chances are it's in West Armidale, the house is barley livable or it is on/near commission estates. Pretty much, unless you are on North or South Hill (South is much nicer, btw) you will be in a crap area. Places like West Armidale, Brown St Estate, anywhere east of Marsh and South of Barney; or West of Niagra, you will be living near drunken Uni students, unemployed junkies, and generally undesirables. (And before anyone jumps up and down about racism in regards to condemning places like Newling - I'm aborignal and won't live there because of the alcohol fueled violence, the drugs and the crime rates. And even though it's classed as an 'Aboriginal Area', the majority of people are so white that they go red the moment the frost departs us for another year.) Those 'cheap' places you mention are undoubtedly in the same area as those whom experience daily break and enters and robberies to fund their charming drug habits.
Also, compared to EVERY OTHER TOWN/CITY in the Northern Tablelands and New England would have to be half the price (and half the chance of being bashed/robbed/beheaded - OK, maybe not in Tamworth...).
Also, you get the joy of dealing with a lot of self-important wankers in Armidale....
My advice? Find somewhere CLOSE to Armidale, if you need to be close to town (i.e. work, uni etc) then look at towns nearby (Uralla, Guyra etc) If buying, the really close rural communities are absolutely awesome - places like Invergowrie, Arding, Samurez etc Otherwise, Inverell or Glen are quite nice.