You are spoilt for choice when it comes to places along NSW’s lengthy 2,137 km coast. From remote sleepy villages to larger towns with bigger populations and more amenities, there’s plenty to catch your eye. Choosing a location comes down to your needs and preferences. If you’re a retiree or are looking to upsize your property, you will have different criteria to a property investor.
With this in mind, here are the 5 best places to live on the NSW coast. Our selection includes suburbs on the north and south coast, as well as a bolt-hole just outside of Sydney.
Lennox Head is a small coastal town situated between Byron Bay and Ballina. It’s primarily known as a surf spot, but there’s more to the town than its legendary breaks. This gorgeous coastal town also offers residents a slow pace, stunning setting, and relative affordability.
This becomes more obvious when you begin comparing property prices to its trendier northern neighbour, Byron. There, the median house price is close to double: $1,525,000 vs. $3,025,000, while units are a little more comparable: $912,500 vs. $1,382,500.
According to realestate.com.au, the town’s demographic is evenly split between older couples and families (22 per cent), established couples and families (20.5 per cent), and maturing and established independence age groups (20.2 per cent). In terms of amenities like supermarkets and cafes, you can expect to find everything Byron or Ballina has, but at a smaller scale and slower pace.
If you want to be within striking distance of the beach, Queensland, and Byron, then Lennox Heads is definitely one of the best places to live on the NSW north coast!
If you’re looking for one of the best places to live on the NSW south coast, then Eden down on the Sapphire Coast is a standout. Besides being equidistant from Melbourne and Sydney, a 6 hour journey either way, the town is a natural harbour, so it’s a mecca for boating and fishing. With a population of around 3,000, it won’t feel too crowded, either.
You may know Eden as the home of Australia’s historic whaling fleet, but thankfully these days it’s all about viewing these gentle beasts at the annual Eden Whale Festival.
In terms of property prices, with a median price of $650,000, affordability is a major factor in Eden’s favour. But it’s fairly remote so be sure to keep that in mind. This figure will go up to around $850,00 if you want four bedrooms.
Houses dominate this market, but if you do find a unit you will be paying in the region of $347,500, depending on the number of rooms it has. In terms of the town’s demographic, you’ll primarily find older couples and families living there, though this could change given the ‘flight from the cities’ and popularity of remote working.
If you want to ‘get away from it all’ in one of the cheapest beach suburbs in NSW, then definitely shortlist Eden. It’s a location that would suit sea-changers and downsizers or early retirees who are still active and want to be near the water.
When you visit Bundeena, you could be mistaken for thinking you’re a world away from Sydney. But it’s actually only just an hour's drive from the big smoke. You can also do it without a car, catching a train to Cronulla and then hopping on a short ferry ride. Buy property here and you’ll have the Royal National Park and ocean right on your doorstep, as well as all the sleepy charm and slow pace of life that this small town has.
It sure is beautiful, but is it affordable? This depends on your benchmark. Property prices here do reflect the proximity of Sydney, with a median house price of $1,570,000. Though keep in mind that this wouldn’t even get you a unit in some city suburbs.
Like many coastal towns, houses dominate this market, where you can expect to pay $1,730,000 for a four bedroom property. This is a high demand market, with realestate.com.au reporting an average of 1300 visits per listing per month over the last year to February 2022. Established couples with families (21.9 per cent) are the dominant demographic, followed by older couples and families (21.6 per cent).
If you want a getaway close to Sydney or are thinking of a tree/sea change, then Bundeena could be the right location for you. It gives you easy access to everything the city has to offer, but with your base firmly in a much less frenetic environment.
NSW Far South Coast
At just under 5 hours from Sydney, Narooma is not a quick weekend getaway. That said, it’s definitely within striking distance if you need to visit the city. The town, which has a population of 3,665, is a famed foodie destination with fresh local oysters the highlight.
There is also no shortage of local produce, arts and crafts, and much more on offer. You’ll even have the historic Central Tilba right on your doorstep. If getting outdoors is a priority for you, then Montage Island and its seal colony is a must, as are boating on the clear waters of the Wagonga Inlet.
Median property prices in Narooma range from $735,000 for houses to $442,500 for units. If you opt for a one bedroom unit you can expect to pay as little as $203,500 or $405,000 for a two bedroom unit. An older demographic currently defines Narooma, with elderly singles (19.2 per cent) and older couples and families (17.8 per cent) making up close to half the area's population.
Narooma is a little gem of a town with a lot going on, including arts, crafts and a foodie scene. It’s without a doubt one of the best places to live on the NSW south coast, if all of those things are important to you.
Mid North Coast
Idyllic Forster sits on a spit wedged between the ocean and Wallis Lake, so any sort of water-based activity is on the menu here. In season, you can whale and dolphin-watch, scuba dive, or dive with sharks. Booti Booti National Park is nearby if you want to stretch your legs and take in your beautiful surroundings.
A 3hr 45 minute drive from Sydney means Forster is usually a weekend break, or the big smoke is close enough if you make the sea-change north. With a median house price of $746,000, this is lower than the NSW median of $901,000. So it’s significantly more affordable if you’re coming from Sydney.
If you’re looking at an investment property, you can expect to collect a median weekly rent of $500 for a house. The median unit price in Forster is $530,000, or $450,000 if you are looking for a two bedroom apartment. The demographic is currently skewed to older retirees, with elderly couples (21.3 per cent) the dominant age group.
If the mid north coast is on your radar, either to move to or invest in, then Forster has a lot going for it. This includes a variety of property types - freestanding houses and units, both currently priced less than the state average.
If you are thinking of investing in a coastal holiday home, then be sure to weigh up all the pros and cons of this arrangement. You want to make sure it's the right move for your personal circumstances. Leasing your property as a holiday rental is an option, but it is never going to match a conventional investment property for earnings, though it could help to offset some costs of holding the property.
If you are planning on downsizing to a coastal property when you retire then consider if the local area has all the amenities you may need - like healthcare facilities and a local support network.
Don’t forget to make use of the other resources on our site, with articles covering the cost of buying a house, the best suburbs for families in Sydney, and the best buyer’s agents in Sydney to help you find and bid on your dream property.
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Disclaimer: Doorsteps Finance Pty Ltd ACN 648 541 879 (credit representative no.531036) is authorised under Doorsteps Solutions Pty Ltd ACN 654 334 246, Australian Credit Licence 537369. Any credit application made through Doorsteps Finance Pty Ltd is subject to approval, terms and conditions, fees and charges.
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