Merimbula, NSW
Merimbula, NSW. IMAGE: Canva
  • Discover 10 NSW coastal suburbs where downsizing means enjoying the beach lifestyle without breaking the bank.
  • Housing options are priced between $809,000 and $989,000, catering to downsizers, homeowners, and investors.
  • From lakeside retreats to beachside havens, serenity can be just a short drive from major cities.

When it comes to downsizing, many Australians are torn between living their desired coastal lifestyle close to the country’s world-class beaches, or opting for a more affordable property further inland. However, Property Credit’s “Affordable Coastal Havens” report released earlier in the month suggests that it is possible to have the best of both worlds.

This comprehensive report meticulously pinpoints coastal areas where downsizers, in particular, can enjoy beachside tranquility and vibrant community ambiance without stretching their finances. Giordano Stepancic, CEO of Property Credit, underscores the report’s significance, stating, “Our thorough selection process ensures that every suburb listed offers significant value and meets a range of preferences.”

With 50 suburbs shortlisted across Australia, we take a look at the top 10 suburbs across New South Wales where not only downsizers, but any savvy homeowners and investors, can enjoy the seaside lifestyle for under $1 million.

Top 10 NSW beach suburbs under $1m

  1. Tuross Head
  2. Port Macquarie
  3. Lake Cathie
  4. Sandy Beach
  5. Yamba
  6. Berkeley Vale
  7. Smiths Lake
  8. Banora Point
  9. Long Beach
  10. Merimbula
Tuross Head, NSW
The #1 affordable beach-side suburb in NSW is Tuross Head. IMAGE: Canva

Tuross Head

With an average asking price of $809,000 at the time of the report, Tuross Head in NSW’s Capital Region claims the top spot as the most affordable beach suburb for downsizing. Located a 4.5-hour drive from Sydney and just 2.5 hours from Canberra, this suburb offers proximity to major cities while providing a serene natural setting.

Residents of Tuross Head enjoy unparalleled waterfront views, surrounded by two lakes, a river, and the Tasman Sea. Water enthusiasts indulge in a variety of activities including skiing, kayaking, sailing, and boating. Renowned as one of NSW’s Top 3 Fishing Havens, fishing enthusiasts will find their paradise in this coastal community.

Port Macquarie

Ranked second on the list, Port Macquarie, nestled on the Mid North Coast of NSW, boasts an average asking price of $840,000 for a slice of heaven in this coastal suburb. Renowned for its natural beauty and abundant wildlife, Port Macquarie is a cherished holiday destination among Australians. With a staggering 17 beaches, it’s a haven for surfers and beach lovers alike. The coastal waters are often graced by the presence of whales and dolphins, while inland, the region hosts the highest population of koalas on Australia’s east coast.

Beyond its natural splendour, Port Macquarie offers a vibrant culinary scene, featuring award-winning restaurants, cafes, and wineries. Situated four hours north of Sydney and six hours south of Brisbane by car, the region is also easily accessible via direct flights from major cities like Sydney, Brisbane, and Canberra. Whether exploring its pristine beaches, observing wildlife, or indulging in gourmet delights, Port Macquarie promises an idyllic coastal lifestyle for any lucky enough to call it home.

Port Macquarie, NSW
Port Macquarie is one of the top destinations to downsize near the beach, for under $1m. IMAGE: Canva

Lake Cathie

Claiming the third spot on the list and just a short 12km south of Port Macquarie, lies Lake Cathie (pronounced ‘cat-eye’), offering properties for approximately $870,800 – an enticing prospect for downsizers and investors alike. Along with being named an affordable coastal haven, Lake Cathie is also considered one of Australia’s top 20 suburbs for investing in new houses. At the heart of Lake Cathie lies its expansive saltwater lake, the second-largest estuarine salt marsh area in New South Wales. When the lake periodically meets the sea, its warm, shallow waters become an inviting oasis for swimming, surrounded by ample picnic spots and barbecue facilities along the shore.

Nature enthusiasts can explore the northern headland’s captivating forest walk, offering panoramic views of the lake and the vast ocean beyond. With a population of approximately 3,600 people, Lake Cathie exudes a welcoming community spirit and remains a popular holiday destination on the Mid-North Coast, celebrated for its peaceful setting, encompassing the lake, lagoon, and stunning beaches.

Sandy Beach

Ranked fourth among NSW’s most affordable beachfront destinations for downsizing under 1 million dollars is Sandy Beach, nestled in the Coffs Harbour – Grafton region, with a typical house asking price of $895,000. A true hidden gem along the Coffs Coast, Sandy Beach, located south of Woolgoolga, offers an escape from the crowds, making it a cherished local treasure.

With its stunning coastline, Sandy Beach is a beloved swimming spot for residents, particularly at its southern end, sheltered by the protective embrace of Bare Bluff which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline and hinterland. Sandy Beach is conveniently situated just a six-hour drive north of Sydney and four hours south of Brisbane.


Also located in the beautiful Coffs Harbour – Grafton region is Yamba, coming in at 5th place with an average house asking price of $895,000. Situated at the mouth of the Clarence River on the North Coast, Yamba embodies the essence of a dream coastal getaway. With its pristine beaches, renowned surf breaks, and vibrant marine parks teeming with dolphins, sea turtles, and migrating whales, Yamba is perfect for nature enthusiasts.

Surrounded by national parks and wilderness reserves, the town is a sanctuary for those seeking refuge amidst nature’s bounty. Moreover, Yamba’s culinary scene steals the spotlight, surpassing even its more illustrious neighbours. Accessible via a 7.5-hour drive north from Sydney or a 3.5-hour drive south from Brisbane, Yamba also offers the convenience of the Clarence Valley Regional Airport on the outskirts of Grafton, with a short 50-minute drive north to reach this coastal paradise.

Yamba, NSW
Yamba in NSW is the perfect, affordable destination for nature lovers. IMAGE: Canva

Berkeley Vale

Ranked sixth on the list is Berkeley Vale, situated in the idyllic Central Coast region of New South Wales, Australia, and boasting an average house price of $890,000. Conveniently located within commuting distance from Sydney, approximately a one-hour drive north of the city and just off the Sydney-Newcastle freeway, Berkeley Vale offers residents a perfect blend of accessibility and serenity.

With a population of under 10,000, Berkeley Vale offers a slower-paced lifestyle compared to many other coastal destinations on the list. Additionally, the suburb features 20 parks, covering nearly 12.1% of the total area, further enhancing its appeal as a tranquil residential enclave.

Smiths Lake

Smiths Lake in the Barrington Coast region of NSW’s Mid North Coast clinches the seventh spot on the list of affordable coastal retreats, with an average asking price of $910,000. The suburb also fared well in a 2023 report identifying the best downsizing locations across Australia. This charming village is approximately 274 kilometres north of Sydney – or a leisurely three and a half hour drive – making it a convenient weekend escape or permanent residence.

Surrounded by the stunning coastal lakes of the Great Lakes region, including nearby Pacific Palms and Forster-Tuncurry, Smiths Lake offers residents a coastal lifestyle blending lakeside living with the allure of pristine beaches.

Banora Point

Number 8 with an average house asking price of $918,000 goes to Banora Point, nestled in the Richmond-Tweed region. With a population of under 20,000, this charming suburb offers a perfect blend of coastal serenitiy and urban convenience. Bordering the Tweed River, Banora Point presents breathtaking water vistas, complemented by lush parklands and a picturesque golf course at its centre.

Despite its suburban setting, Banora Point thrives as a hub for small businesses, featuring a growing industrial estate and vibrant shopping precincts. An 8-hour drive from Sydney, and just a mere hour from Brisbane, this coastal gem promises a relaxed lifestyle with easy access to modern amenities, recreational facilities, and a tight-knit community atmosphere.

Long Beach

Long Beach, nestled in the NSW’s Capital Region, emerges as a desirable destination with an average asking price of $969,000 in the current buyer’s market. Part of Batemans Bay in the Eurobodalla Shire, this coastal suburb offers a serene lifestyle on the north bank of the Clyde estuary. While small, spanning under 10 square kilometres and with a population of 1,436, residents cherish Long Beach for its quality of living and safety.

Located just a 3 hours and 39 minutes drive south of Sydney and a convenient 2-hour drive east from Canberra, Long Beach promises a coastal retreat perfect for downsizers.


Rounding out the list of affordable beachside havens under $1m is Merimbula, with a modest average house asking price of $989,000. Situated on the scenic Sapphire Coast, this enchanting seaside town beckons with its rugged ocean beaches and calm coastal lakes. A treasure trove of outdoor adventures awaits, from thrilling water sports to mesmerising whale-watching excursions.

The name ‘Merimbula’ originates from a local Aboriginal term signifying ‘two lakes,’ a nod to the surrounding Merimbula Lake and Back Lake. These water bodies on Australia’s Oyster Coast are a must-visit for sailing enthusiasts, kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders. Merimbula is just under a six-hour drive from Sydney, 7 hours and 30 minutes from Melbourne, and 3 hours from Canberra. Alternatively, you can fly into Merimbula Airport and embark on a picturesque journey through this captivating region

Merimbula, NSW
Merimbula is a great place to live for those wanting a coastal lifestyle for less. IMAGE: Canva

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