John McGrath – Has beachside living eclipsed metro appeal?
The opportunity for world-class beachside living across our big capital cities and key regional markets is one of the most enduring and unique features of Australia’s prestige property market.
The popularity of prestige beachside living has soared during my 40 plus years in real estate, and it’s been a remarkable trend to watch.
In Sydney, we have seen beach suburbs like Bronte, Tamarama, and Bondi Beach rise in status to become as sought-after as the harbourside suburbs of Point Piper, Bellevue Hill, and Vaucluse.
In Melbourne, which has been rated the world’s most liveable city several times, St Kilda, Brighton, and the Mornington Peninsula continue to draw buyers away from the metropolitan zone.
And up in Queensland, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast property markets are more highly prized and valuable in terms of median home prices than Brisbane.
So let’s look at this trend further.
In all cases, many buyers are sacrificing a bit of proximity to the CBD and shunning traditional prestige areas, such as the harbour suburbs of Sydney, to enjoy a different lifestyle at the beach.
So, what makes beachside living so desirable?
Well, the most obvious factor is the natural beauty of Australia’s beaches. We have some of the cleanest and most picturesque sandy beaches in the world. But there’s more to it than that.
These days, plenty of people hang out at the beach but often don’t go near the water. Instead, they go there to enjoy the café and dining precincts, as well as other recreational pursuits.
Over the past few decades as Australia has embraced alfresco dining and coffee culture, beach suburbs have gentrified as small cafes, eateries, and world-class restaurants have moved in. This has completely overhauled the street life, community feeling, and appeal of our beach suburbs.
And what about beach retail? In Surfers Paradise, you can literally walk off the beach into a big retail and entertainment mall with hundreds of restaurants, five-star hotels, and nightclubs in close proximity.
Australian beaches have become much more than just a place to swim or have a surf. They’re hang-out precincts now, with lots of things to see and do.
People are working harder and life is much busier these days, so living close to a beach serves a number of purposes, including exercise, family recreational activities like picnics and barbecues, and personal hobbies like rock fishing, hang gliding, and windsurfing.
As beach suburbs have risen in status over the years, a complete regeneration of housing stock has taken place. I witnessed this in Sydney during the 1980s and 1990s when I was a young agent.
As real estate values soared, the city’s prestige buyers began targeting beach suburbs instead of harbour suburbs, where they could afford to build their own style of waterside trophy homes.
This transformed suburbs like Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, and South Coogee, which now showcase some of Australia’s best ultra-contemporary prestige residences.
And this same trend has played out across many beach suburbs in our big capital cities.
Beach neighbourhoods like Bondi Beach and Manly in Sydney, St Kilda and Brighton in Melbourne, and Mermaid Beach and Burleigh Heads in Queensland are now household-name prestige property markets.
And all of this happened well before COVID created the rise of prestige regional beach suburbs.
The desirability of prestige beachside living is spreading from the cities to the regions at a rapid pace, partly facilitated by the ability to work from home.
This has prompted both modest homeowners and prestige homeowners in our cities to relocate to regional areas where they can afford to build designer homes in premium beach suburbs.
We’re seeing beach regions like Byron in NSW, Noosa in Queensland, and the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria being transformed as big city money filters into these property markets. Contemporary architecturally designed trophy homes are popping up all over the place in areas once characterized by only modest family homes and the holiday shacks of city people.
Real estate wealth from the big cities will continue flowing through to regional beach suburbs in these post-COVID years. It’s going to increase the size of regional prestige markets dramatically.
It is very hard to get it wrong when buying property in beach suburbs, no matter which price bracket you’re purchasing in. A beach location will always command a premium in Australia.