Queensland’s Sunshine Coast sees a post-COVID population and house-price boom

If you go down to the beach today, you’ll find … a lot more people living there. While it’s always been the dream of so many Australians to have a home by the beach, the pandemic gave many the push to turn it into a reality.

“I think, for many, the beach is a place that represents relaxation, togetherness with friends and family, a stepping away from work,” says psychotherapist Brandon Srot.

“I think there’s something meditative about the sound of the ocean that reverberates throughout us humans when we are near it and when we hear it,” he says.

“The beach is connected to summer, so there’s that association of taking a break from school, work or other duties in that connection too.”

And which beaches do we like the most? That has to be those of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, which now accounts for the largest share of total net population flow from capital cities to regional Australia at 37 per cent, eclipsing the 26 per cent heading for regional NSW and 23 per cent to regional Victoria.

Queensland's Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast has gained more post-COVID tree and sea-changers than any other regional area. Photo: Jesse Lindemann

Just under two-thirds of those migrants (64.8 per cent) have relocated to areas within 30 minutes of the coastline, according to the latest figures from the Regional Australia Institute.

As a result, property prices in Noosa have skyrocketed, with houses in Noosa Heads rising an astonishing 152 per cent over the last five years, and 41.4 per cent in the last year alone, to a median of $2,212,500, according to the latest Domain House Price Report.

Apartment prices, meanwhile, increased 136 per cent over the same period, and 20.9 per cent in the last 12 months, to $1.3 million.

Noosa has always been a favourite sea change because of the beauty of the area, its climate and the fact that it’s so accessible, with the Sunshine Coast Airport just half an hour’s drive away and Brisbane reached in two hours.

“The strong price growth has reflected its popularity, particularly through the pandemic,” says Domain chief of research & economics Dr Nicola Powell.

Another major attraction, says Rory Williamson of Noosa Head’s Williamson & Co Real Estate, is the strictness of the local council, limiting the amount of development that can take place and effectively limiting the height of buildings to three levels.

“Noosa is very pro-conservation and not pro-development,” he says. “That’s what makes it so special. It’s never going to be another Gold Coast and that’s why so many people have moved here – and on the proviso it stays that way.”

There are also some spectacular homes on the market at the moment, like playwright David Williamson’s four-bedroom home, Aeolus, set right on Sunshine Beach at 6/27 Ross Crescent, with a private track to the ocean.

The John Mainwaring-designed property has lofty ceilings, cross-ventilation, air-conditioning and a 450-bottle cellar.

“There’s only a handful of blocks of land of this size on direct beachfront,” Williamson says. “And they’re not making any more of them.”

Another of Australia’s top beach performers has been Byron Bay in NSW, beating Sydney’s median house price comfortably at $2.15 million, up 70.3 per cent in the last five years, but declining slightly last year by 6.5 per cent, and a unit median of $1.65 million, up 104 per cent in five years and 57.1 per cent over the last 12 months.

Will Phillips of McGrath Byron Bay says demand has been constantly fierce throughout the pandemic from relocating city dwellers and, with prices coming off, it hasn’t waned at all.

“People always desire to move to this area and now, with prices coming back a little, they see that it offers even better value than a year ago,” he says.

“It’s appealing to more people now. I think it’s probably the really laid-back and unpretentious lifestyle, as well as the world-class restaurants, cafes and bars, and life is a bit easier.”

Phillips is currently selling a three-bedroom house at 41 Pacific Vista Drive, which sits high on the ridgeline in a private cul-de-sac and has magnificent ocean views over Cape Byron.

“It’s hard to get ocean views in Byron unless you want to spend $20 million to buy on Wategos Beach,” he says.

Another hot beachside town is Warrnambool on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. With a much lower median price – $600,000 for houses and $400,000 for apartments – it’s seen substantial price rises over the last year: 30.7 per cent for houses (and 81.8 per cent in five years) and 13.5 per cent for units.

“Even prior to the pandemic, people were moving here,” says Penny Adamson of Charles Stewart Real Estate, who’s selling a five-bedroom, 6.39-hectare property at 101 Farnham Road, just 10 minutes from the beach.

“It has a beautiful coastal lifestyle, yet is only three or three and a half hours from Melbourne, and it has a strong economy powered by rural commodities.

“We’re seeing a lot of people from Melbourne moving here – and from Sydney – because of the liveability, the acreage and all the facilities, like medical. It’s like a big country city and is a beautiful place to live.”

With the national economy now slowing, and even more financial pressures on people, being by a beach is becoming even more desirable.

Psychologist Amanda Gordon of Armchair Psychology says so many people are now longing for the vastness and openness of being in nature.

“Being by a beach gives you a feeling of freedom and a sense of not being overwhelmed by the urban environment,” she says. “There’s that sense of something that’s bigger than us that can unburden us which is so welcome.”

Article source: www.domain.com.au

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