The seaside city of Wollongong is now the third most expensive city in Australia, after Sydney and Melbourne.

According to the Domain Group’s Regional House Price Report, house prices in The Gong increased by $100,000 in the year to December, bringing the median house price to $700,000. The median house price in Sydney is currently $1,123,991, while the median house price in Melbourne is $795,447.

Experts say much of Wollongong’s property price growth stems from the high cost of property in nearby Sydney, with both investors and homebuyers turning south in search of more affordable properties.

“It’s now being considered a part of Greater Sydney,” said Dr. Andrew Wilson, Domain Group’s chief economist. “It’s the strongest result of all the major regional markets…likely because of its proximity to Sydney and relative affordability.”

House prices in Wollongong were up 16.7% over the year and a staggering 7.7% over the December quarter. In contrast, Sydney prices grew 10.7% over the year and 4.7% over the quarter.

Apartments in the area have also experienced a significant price jump, up 4.1% to $501,000.

Jason Hines, director at Peter Fitzgerald Real Estate, said the majority of buyers were young families searching for more affordable housing.

“Seventy per cent of our buyer market…would be Sydney buyers,” Hines said. “Mostly from western Sydney selling for great prices and making a sea change at a still very affordable price.”