Port Macquarie property comes of age

Port Macquarie: The once sleepy retirement town becoming a paradise for the young


Even before the pandemic transformed retiree hotspots around Australia into real-estate catnip for city slickers, the Mid North Coast town at the mouth of the Hastings River had done a mighty fine job of shrugging off its senior-citizen image.

Long standing local agent, Alex Glen-Holmes said “It would have been regarded as ‘God’s waiting room’ 15 years ago, but in the past 10 years, the changes in Port Macquarie have been huge,” 

A big-ticket revamp of the local hospital brought scores of working-age residents to the town. Charles Sturt University Port Macquarie welcomed its first intake of students in 2012, followed four years later by the opening of its new campus five kilometres from the central business district. In its pitch to lure new students, the uni talks up the town’s laid-back lifestyle, affordable property, plentiful beaches, nearby rainforest and sunny weather.

From its edgy boutique breweries to a fresh crop of cool cafes, restaurants, bakeries and bars, there’s a vibrancy to Port Macquarie (or just Port, if you’re a local) that might surprise newcomers.

“The smashed-avocado culture has definitely arrived in Port Macquarie,” Alex Glen-Holms says.

“We’re also getting a lot more families with young children that have decided to move here. The schools are good, and it’s a great lifestyle for kids.”

The pandemic turbocharged changes already afoot, as more out-of-towners – including Sydney and Canberra buyers – decided Port Macquarie offered the perfect mix of lifestyle and job prospects. Port Macquarie has been the most searched town or suburb in NSW outside Sydney for more than 12 months, according to domain.com.au searches of homes for sale. The local government area’s population growth rate in 2020 (1.7 per cent) was more than double the regional NSW average.

Alex Glen-Holmes has reported changes in the styles of homes that are being snapped up quickly as more young house-hunters enter the market. In the past, sturdy 1980s and ‘90s brick homes and duplexes were in vogue.

“But now we’re noticing a big move towards people wanting to buy older homes and renovate them. It’s a sign of the changing demographics.”

Developers are capitalising on the booming demand by establishing new residential communities to the south and west of Port Macquarie, including at Lake Cathie, Bonny Hills and Thrumster.

“The demand is well-exceeding supply at the moment,” Alex Glen-Holmes says.