A new type of fly-in, fly-out worker - the white collar FIFO - is emerging, and will have a significant impact on regional property markets, a report says.
The McGrath Report features John McGrath, founder and executive director of McGrath Estate Agents analysing the Australian residential property market.
Mr McGrath said the Illawarra has long been the "hidden gem" of NSW, but more recent social trends meant that it will undergo a surge in demand and value over the next few years.
"Investing in the Wollongong region will yield as good a return as almost anywhere in the country for home owners and investors alike," he said.
In the report, Mr McGrath noted that for much of the 'noughties', Australian airports on Monday mornings were filled with blue collar workers in boots and high-vis vests.
"After a weekend in their city homes, they were flying back to well-paying jobs at the mines.
"Now, a new fly-in, fly-out worker is emerging that will have a significant impact on regional property markets - the white collar FIFO.
"Professional FIFO families are relocating from expensive capital cities to affordable regional and coastal lifestyle areas serviced by airports, where they are pushing up demand for property."
Mr McGrath told the Mercury the Illawarra will be a huge recipient and benefactor of this new FIFO trend, partially thanks to its access to Sydney, as well as its desirable coastal lifestyle.
"Most of today's professional FIFO ideally want access to the big cities within a 90-minute drive, so the Illawarra ticks all their boxes.
"Affordability is also a big driver of relocation, and the Illawarra definitely offers great value for Sydney buyers.
"This means that some Sydney buyers priced out of the market will be able to buy, and often upgrade.
"Others will be able to buy without a mortgage, which is incredibly desirable for young families and empty nesters."
The report also says increasing air travel options are allowing these modern day commuters to extend the range of where they can live.
There are 155 airports in Australia and 2000 smaller airfields.
About 75 per cent of airports are in regional and remote areas, most with regular flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
To cope with growing demand from expanding residential populations, many regional airports are increasing flights and boosting infrastructure, the report says.
Fly Corporate provides regular passenger flights from Shellharbour Airport to Brisbane and Melbourne (Essendon) return.
In January, it was announced Shellharbour Airport would benefit from a $16 million state government cash splash on facility upgrades and a new, permanent passenger terminal.
Mr McGrath said local air travel can only enhance an area.
"Many areas of the Illawarra (also) benefit from very close proximity to Sydney airport, and the second airport at Badgerys Creek will also be a factor," he said.
The report also notes that many big companies are allowing more of their employees to work remotely, at least part of the time, as a way of retaining and attracting the best talent.
Mr McGrath said many industries don't require their staff to be at head office and find flexible working arrangements mean a happier workforce.
"This allows them to attract and retain the best people," he said.
"So the Illawarra will again benefit for those who want the best lifestyle, but may need access to them on a regular basis."