For years, coastal Cronulla was associated with the race riots of 2005, but times – and property values – have changed.
Prices in the suburb – which is part of the Sutherland Shire, south of Botany Bay – have soared in the past five years. The citywide real estate boom, plus Cronulla’s reputation as the most prestigious of the Shire’s neighbourhoods, have fuelled a 72 per cent rise in the median apartment price and a 58 per cent rise in the median house price, according to Domain Group data.
Culturally, the area is evolving, too. Harrison Cartwright, an events manager at an inner-city media company, grew up in the Shire but moved to the artsy Inner West in his early 20s.
He’s recently returned to Cronulla to live with family and to save money, and he says the change in the suburb is “drastic”.
“I’m finding it’s really stopped being as conservative as it used to be,” Cartwright says. “There’s a lot more to do around here, and more bar and food options especially.”
For decades, most of those who bought in Cronulla came from other parts of the Shire in search of a beach lifestyle or a unit with a water view to retire in. “But recently I’ve noticed people who are looking for value coming from other parts of Sydney,” says says Justin Ressler of Ressler Property.
Ressler says buyers from the Inner West and the Eastern Suburbs are discovering that they can stretch their money further in the Shire, and are happy to settle for slightly longer commute times. At $1,775,000 for houses and $826,000 for units, according to Domain data, Cronulla’s medians are no longer “cheap” – but they are still significantly lower than many other beachfront enclaves in Sydney.
Connectivity to the CBD remains decent, says Cartwright. “I commute to Kings Cross for work everyday and it’s pretty simple – never really more than an hour, either by train or car.”
While house prices dropped over the past six months, Cronulla’s unit median increased 7.3 per cent – a strong result in spite of a high number of sales and recent building boom.
“The majority of Cronulla is still exceptionally strong,” says Brett Cripps of Cripps & Cripps Property. “North Cronulla, in particular, is going gangbusters.”
Cripps reckons the key driver of the Cronulla market in 2017 is an increase in residents from elsewhere in the Shire “cashing in” after the Sydney boom.
“Baby Boomers are selling their McMansions in the west [of the Shire] and then coming to Cronulla,” he says. “They want to purchase a three or four-bedroom unit on the Esplanade or one street back from the Esplanade.”
He adds: “They just want the Cronulla life. I know that’s a cliche, but it’s very true.”
Like many other parts of Sydney, Cronulla is facing mounting congestion issues as the transport network struggles to keep pace with population growth. The addition of new apartment blocks in Cronulla in recent years has doubled travel times by car to other parts of the Shire, according to Cripps.
He says the future of the suburb depends on the local council.
“I just hope, for my kids’ sake, that the council looks at what it’s done [with development approvals] and we get better strategic planning for infrastructure in the future.”
For now, Cartwright is enjoying being back in Cronulla. “It’s nice to leave work and actually feel like you’re capable of switching off, with a complete change of scenery,” he says.