Regional NSW is one of the locations to experience the dominant trend impacting real estate markets across Australia – the ‘Exodus to Affordable Lifestyle’, which sees residents of the biggest cities relocating to smaller cities and regional areas.
The most significant instance is Sydney residents moving to other parts of Australia including, notably, other parts of NSW. Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that Sydney has been losing population to “internal migration” for the past 10 years and this steady trickle has become a stampede since COVID-19.
The first locations to benefit from new population and new real estate demand were lifestyle locations close to Sydney including the Central Coast, the Southern Highlands, Wollongong and the towns of the Shoalhaven region, and the Blue Mountains.
More recently, the trend has expanded to include more distant regional areas that offer lifestyle benefits at prices enticing to Sydney buyers. These include Lake Macquarie and the Hunter Valley outside Newcastle; coastal centres such as Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Port Stephens and the South Coast towns; and inland regional centres such as Orange, Bathurst, Mudgee and Dubbo.
The most high profile of the NSW regional centres to experience a property boom is Byron Bay but, exceptional annual growth is being seen in towns right across Regional NSW.
The 10 best suburbs in Regional New South Wales to invest in
- Blue Haven (Central Coast)
- Gwandalan (Central Coast)
- Karabar (Queanbeyan)
- Singleton Heights (Hunter Valley)
- Tolland (Wagga Wagga)
- Toukley (Central Coast)
- Warners Bay (Lake Macquarie)
The most powerful force sweeping Australian real estate is the ‘Exodus to Affordable Lifestyle’ trend and few locations have been impacted more than the Central Coast market immediately north of the Sydney metropolitan area. Its proximity to the NSW capital, water-based lifestyle and variety of price points has led to a marked uplift in sales activity and prices.
Blue Haven (median price $560,000), Toukley (median price $575,000) and Gwandalan (median price $550,000) sit at the more affordable end of the Central Coast market. Rents have soared in the Blue Haven area on the back of very low vacancies and sales activity has risen, causing prices to spike recently. Typical yields above 4% compare favourably with nearby Sydney.
It’s a very similar story at Gwandalan and Toukley, with demand from city buyers seeking lifestyle at attractive prices a key factor. Locations such as Toukley thrive on their easy access to a variety of water environments, including ocean and lakes.
Towns throughout the Hunter Valley region are receiving heightened levels of buyer demand, because this area fits the ‘Exodus to Affordable Lifestyle’ trend and is also being boosted by major new infrastructure projects. Sales activity in Cessnock has doubled in the past 12 to 18 months and that, plus sharply rising rents caused by ultra-low vacancies, has seen sale prices spike in the latest quarter. Singleton Heights is also feeling the positive impacts of these trends, boosted by low vacancies, rising rents, yields around 5% and an uplift in sales activity.
The Lake Macquarie LGA, which sits alongside Newcastle, has become a popular market among lifestyle buyers. Warners Bay (median price $725,000) is achieving elevated buyer demand and prices have spiked, particularly in the latest quarter. With vacancies close to zero, rents are also rising strongly. Warners Bay, which fronts the lake but is only 15km from the Newcastle CBD, is the second-largest population centre in the Lake Macquarie LGA and is a hub for water sports and recreational activities.
The Queanbeyan LGA benefits from being located in Regional NSW while also being part of the Canberra metropolitan area. It’s just 15-20 minutes from the centre of the national capital. Vacancies are scarce in the suburb of Karabar and rents have jumped, as has the level of buyer demand, which is helping to push up the median house price.
Goulburn also benefits from proximity to Canberra, being strategically located between the national capital and Sydney. With a median price of $450,000, Goulburn is significantly cheaper than Canberra where the median house price is above $900,000 – and many people buy in Goulburn and commute to jobs in the national capital. Goulburn prices are destined to rise because sales levels have increased from 100 per quarter 18 months ago to around 200 now. With vacancies under 1%, rents also are rising.
There are few markets in Regional Australia as steady and dependable as Dubbo, the main population centre in the Orana Region of NSW. The rental market is tight in Dubbo and increases in rents and sales volumes are leading to a faster pace of price growth recently. Dubbo’s affordability (median price $400,000) and solid infrastructure attract buyers. The strength and diversity of the local economy ensure steady demand for real estate.
Wagga Wagga has performed well in the past year or so, boosted by its status as the key centre for the Riverina district and the strength of its infrastructure, which includes important military bases, which are undergoing expansions. The suburb of Tolland has rental yields above 5% and affordable sales prices – which are destined to rise as buyer demand increases, boosted by a major expansion of local medical, transport, resources & energy infrastructure.
The 10 best suburbs in Regional NSW to invest in
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|Suburb||Median house price||1-yr growth||10-yr average
annual growth (%pa)
Sources: Median price, growth and rental yield: CoreLogic data sourced from yourinvestmentpropertymag.com.au dated 1 August 2021. Vacancy rates: SQM Research as at September 2021.
Cover image source: Willjhunt/Shutterstock.com
About Terry Ryder
Terry is the founder and Managing Director of hotspotting.com.au, which he created in 2006 to help investors find the best places to buy. Terry has been a specialist researcher and writer on Australian residential property in a career spanning four decades. During that time he has published four books.
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