5 reasons why more millennials are calling the Hunter home

The Hunter is a popular holiday destination for Sydneysiders. But this region of sun, surf and scenic vineyards is increasingly appealing to young homebuyers keen to make the good life permanent.

Holidays by the beach, camping trips in national parks and weekends of winery hopping have long driven young Sydneysiders north to the Hunter region.

With city house prices sky high and the Covid-19 pandemic impacting how people work and spend their time, Sydney millennials are keener than ever to make the move.

Brain Swaine, managing director of Hunter-based developer McCloy Group, says the area’s lifestyle options are a big draw factor.

“We’ve found an increasing trend in the last few years of millennials moving out of Sydney,” he says. “Now, with an increase in working remotely, it’s even more attractive. People can have an employment base in Sydney but live in the Hunter.”

The Regional Australia Institute reported that leading up to the 2016 Census, more millennials left Sydney for regional NSW (notably to Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Maitland), than moved from regional NSW into Sydney.

So, what’s making the Hunter so attractive? Here are five key reasons why millennials are making the move.

1. Life’s a beach
The Hunter’s coastal towns offer sun, surf, and stretches of pristine coast to walk along. In fact, Mitchell Pearce, captain of the NRL Newcastle Knights thinks the Hunter’s beaches are up there with the best he’s seen in Australia.

“I’m in Merewether, which is a really surfy, coastal area, with lots of cafes and restaurants near the beach,” he says.

Mitchell says beach lovers will also revel in Port Stephens, which has plenty of bays for swimming and snorkelling, and surf breaks for the more adventurous.

Nature lovers are also spoilt for choice, with many national parks to hike, camp and watch wildlife in. Just a short drive from Newcastle is Hunter Wetlands National Park, great for walking, cycling, fishing and birdwatching. Meanwhile, north west of Newcastle there’s Barrington Tops National Park, and in the Lake Macquarie direction there’s Watagans National Park.

2. Vineyard vibes
The cafe, restaurant and bar culture just keeps on getting better in Hunter towns, according to Mitchell, who says there’s “something for everyone”.

In the scenic Hunter Valley wine region, there are over 150 wineries to visit including famous names De Bortoli Wines and McGuigan Wines, as well as plenty of boutique options. Millennials can meet friends for an afternoon of wine tasting, chat to the winemakers and enjoy a drop alongside a locally grown paddock-to-plate meal.

3. Family friendly focus
For millennials ready for a ‘family friendly’ vibe, Brian says the Hunter has it in spades.

“It’s a fantastic place to raise a family, and you’ve got all of the recreational opportunities up here,” he says.

Beyond the beaches there’s plenty to do, with both big brand and boutique shopping, live music, galleries, boating, fishing, and professional and community sport.

When it’s time to hit the books, Brian says there’s loads of choice in schools and higher education.

“We have Newcastle University, a thriving TAFE, and a number of private and public schools.”

For job seekers, the region has moved a long way from its mining roots and now offers work in government departments, defence, healthcare, teaching and trades.

4. Access all areas
The Hunter is just two hours north of Sydney via the M1. Mitchell takes advantage of the easy drive to regularly visit his family.

“You obviously don’t have the big loads of traffic that you have in Sydney, which is refreshing and something that I’ve really enjoyed,” he says.

Newcastle has plenty of train services to Sydney, as well as an airport for domestic travel to Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, and Canberra.

5. New homes within reach
Housing affordability in Sydney can be tricky for millennials, with little opportunity to build a new home for under $750,000.

In comparison, the Hunter has a selection of more affordable new developments for young buyers to consider. McCloy has at least seven communities underway across Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens and Maitland, which all make the most of the natural surroundings.

Former Sydneysiders Charles and Dhanya built a two-storey home at McCloy Group’s Billy’s Lookout in Teralba, Lake Macquarie, and love living there with their two children.

“We found Lake Macquarie has a pristine and serene nature,” Dhanya says. “It’s affordable to get into the real estate market and secure your dream home when compared to Sydney. We have our dream home — it may be double the size of a usual Sydney block for a lesser amount.”

There are also a number of home-buying grants that might help millennials make the Hunter home such as HomeBuilder, First Home Buyers Assistance Scheme and First Home Owners Grant.

1st October 2020 | realestate.com.au
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