Living by the beach is one of life’s true pleasures. The smell of the sea, the cool breezes blowing off the waves in summer and the sense of space the ocean gives coastal dwellers is a desirable commodity.
In our capital cities, however, the cost of having a home by the sea is unattainable for the majority, as beachside property comes at a premium.
But what about those suburbs just out of the city, or on the fringes, that can give you that coastal lifestyle but are still close enough to commute to city jobs? Where in Australia can you still work in the city, but come home to the ocean and not break the bank?
In NSW, the Central Coast to the north of Sydney and Wollongong to the south still offer affordable property and are serviced by public transport.
The Central Coast has always been a popular destination for young families looking to secure a better lifestyle. According to Australian Property Monitors, its median house price is $370,000, compared to the Sydney median of $609,353. The region has a population of almost 300,000, making it the third largest urban area in NSW and the ninth largest urban area in Australia.
Mark Davis and his family moved from the western suburbs of Sydney to the Central Coast 14 years ago as it ticked all of the boxes they were looking for in a place to call home, notably being near the water and somewhere close to public transport.
“Our first house was a one-bedroom fishing shack, but it was on a waterfront reserve and had its own jetty,” Mark said. “When it was time to start thinking about starting a family we moved out of the that place at Horsfield Bay and purchased a family home at Umina.”
Mark, who commutes to the city via train for his job, said he, his wife Jane and their two children Emily and Aidan love the lifestyle and are active members of their local surf club – something they couldn’t have done in the western suburbs.
“The lifestyle is fantastic …. We get to the beach most weekends. We are surrounded by water with the Hawkesbury, Broken Bay and Brisbane Water, and we also have Brisbane Water National Park on our doorstep,” he said. “So if you are interested in any water sport, boating, fishing, swimming, surfing etc than this is an ideal location.”
Described by demographer Bernard Salt as ‘the big shift’ or the ‘seachange’ phenomenon, many coastal local government areas (LGA’s) are expected to continue to record strong growth. The combination of a lack of housing in metro areas, skyrocketing house prices, baby boomers reaching retirement age, the growing flexibility of work practices associated with telecommunications technology and a growing desire to seek a better lifestyle are all expected to drive this growth.
The rate of growth in coastal areas outside the capital cities is consistently higher than the national average. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in just over a decade from 1997 to 2008 the population of non-metro coastal areas increased from 4.9m to 6.4m at an average rate of 131,000 people a year.
This population now represents 83 per cent of Australia’s regional population and 30 per cent of the nation’s entire population. A further 6.8 million people are predicted to move to coastal areas during the next 40 years, including at least a million people who are expected to start moving to the coast this year as the ‘baby boomer’ generation reaches retirement age.
According to Alan Stokes, the chief of the National Sea Change Taskforce, an organisation which was established in 2004, to investigate, monitor and provide recommendations to coastal LGAs, these figures represent another 12 to 14 Gold Coasts.
There is concern these coastal areas will find it hard to cope with the increasing population as the services there may come under pressure. Potential damage to the coastal environment is also a concern.
“The National Sea Change Taskforce believes these challenges can only be addressed effectively through the commitment of Federal, State, Territory and local governments to work collaboratively to ensure the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the coastal zone.”
Median House Prices – Capital Cities and Coastal Regions adjacent to Metro Cities provided by Australian Property Monitors
|State||Region||Mar-10 Median Price|
|Gold Coast East||547,600|