The coastal town of Port Macquarie, situated about 390km north of Sydney and 570km south of Brisbane, was once a sleepy and nondescript retirement and holiday destination best known for its beaches and waterways. However, the town is going through a rebirth, with waves of young people pouring in seeking employment opportunities and pursuing higher education. 

New and recently upgraded infrastructure—such as the Charles Sturt University campus and the the dual carriageway that links Port Macquarie to Newcastle and Sydney—have given this northern coastal town a new lease of life.

Forty-eight percent of the people buying into the town come from Sydney and Canberra, according to Todd Bates, real estate agent with McGrath Port Macquarie. Many are attracted by the town’s affordable median house price ($525,000) and median unit price ($350,000). The town’s healthy capital growth rate of 9.71% for houses and 7.69% for units is another major draw.

Bates said there aren’t many first-home buyers in the market, adding that the surge in demand comes from investors looking to buy property to turn into student accommodations. The new university campus has about 500 students right now and anticipates 5,000 by 2030. 

According to Tony Dekker, real estate agent at LJ Hooker Port Macquarie, many current investors plan to become future owner-occupiers. Indeed, many Sydneysiders are buying property now and hoping to move in in 10 to 15 years’ time. 

Recent developments mean the town is now having difficulty keeping up with the demand for housing. Last year, there was a significant rental shortage, as the stock of suitable properties had been exhausted at the beginning of the academic year. 

The Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has responded to the surge in demand by approving residential land releases in Sovereign Hills (prices start at $217,000), Ascot Park (from $230,000), and Crestwood Heights (from $255,000).