Daniel Morgan might spend most of his working week in the city but concedes Wollongong will always be home.
The 28-year-old has spent the past five years commuting daily from his Wollongong apartment to his job at a media agency in North Sydney but says he wouldn't give up his coastal lifestyle for the grind of the city.
He admitted job opportunities in his field were scarce in the region but said the quality of life kept him in Wollongong.
"It's that coastal lifestyle of living near the beach but being close to the CBD and restaurants," he said.
"I don't mind the commute; I know I just couldn't do what I do in Sydney in the Illawarra and I like the lifestyle here; I'm close to my family and friends."
He said the cost of living in Sydney was also a turn-off, citing high rent and parking prices.
While Mr Morgan was committed to the region, having just bought an apartment with his girlfriend, he conceded the Illawarra did have its faults.
He said employment prospects for many university graduates were dwindling, requiring many of them to look outside the area for work.
"The Illawarra does need to improve job opportunities so people don't have to finish studying here but then go to the city or interstate to work," he said. "We need to try and keep graduates here so we're not training them and then forcing them to look elsewhere for work."
Mr Morgan said Wollongong's CBD also needed a revamp, agreeing with many residents who ranked the city's design extremely low in the Property Council poll.
"It does need some renovations but I think the work on the Crown Street Mall sounds promising," he said.
"There are also a few people who are getting it right, opening small bars and restaurants, which are really helping to make the city a better place to visit."