Wollongong residents are proud of their lifestyle and climate, but are desperate for better job opportunities and a safer, more attractive city.
Data released today by the Property Council of Australia shows residents are fairly happy with their natural environment and outdoor facilities, but are unimpressed when it comes to the economic climate and the city's look and design.
Wollongong was ranked eight out of 11 cities surveyed, beating out Perth, Sydney and Darwin.
Notching up a liveability score of 60.5, Wollongong showed slight improvement on last year's score but still dropped from sixth place out of 10 cities surveyed in 2011.
Wollongong's natural attributes - climate, attractive natural assets and the facilities provided in the outdoor environment - scored highly.
However, residents were less than glowing when it came to employment and economic opportunities, the city's approach to environmental sustainability and climate change, and an attractive look and design to the city, where Wollongong dropped to last position.
Almost 600 Wollongong residents were tested in the survey of 5842 Australians who live in 11 major cites.
Property Council Illawarra chairman David Laing said the results did not come as a surprise and reflected the overall views of the region's people.
"It's the same old message I think," he said.
"People like their location and setting but are uncertain about the future, they don't particularly like our downtown area and there's a bit of apprehension out there."
Mr Laing said residents surveyed were right to score some liveability factors more harshly.
"We know our city's leaders are working in the right direction, but residents can also see when decision backflips and stalled public works affect the progress in our city, which in turn affects confidence for investment," Mr Laing said.
"There's a record level of private sector investment at the moment in the retail space and even in residential, we counted six cranes in the city the other day, which is fantastic.
"It still comes across as quite disjointed at the moment, there's no real strategic view and there's no real helicopter look at where the city's going."
Mr Laing said the public sector needed to be bolder with their decisions to give Wollongong the best chance to compete with other cities to attract investment for the region.
"We've waited a long time to see greater improvement; hopefully it won't be too little, too late."
HOW WE FARED
Compared to other cities, Wollongong performed relatively well in terms of:
• Residents believe their cities have a good balance of different housing types (1st).
• Having a good climate (2nd).
• Having a good road network and minimal traffic congestion; and attractive natural environment (both 4th).
However, it fared worse than other cities in:
• Having good employment and economic opportunities; being safe places for people and property (both 10th).
• Having an attractive look and design (11th, wooden spoon).
• Being clean, well-maintained and unpolluted (11th, wooden spoon).