Nearly a decade ago, Jen Gehrig was transferring from Wagga Wagga to the Illawarra due to work commitments.
"The advice from people was, 'whatever you do, don't live in Berkeley'," she laughed.
"We just happened to find a house that we really fell in love with, and we also enjoyed the location because it's central to everywhere.
"It's an awesome place to live in."
Berkeley has in the past typically been viewed by many as a working-class area with a high crime rate.
Mrs Gehrig and wife Willeke Mulder bought a property on Shearwater Drive, and said it was a friendly community where they felt safe.
"When I first shifted here I rented in Berkeley, and I didn't find it to be a bad neighbourhood at all - in fact, it was the opposite, so I ended up settling here," Mrs Gehrig said.
"We've got great neighbours, everybody keeps an eye on everybody... It's a really good area."
The couple recently sold their Berkeley home.
Mrs Gehrig said although work was keeping her in the region for the short-term, they'd bought a block of land in Port Macquarie, where they planned to retire.
"We wouldn't be moving except the house is on five tiers and I've had surgeries in the past year, so I can't maintain this garden any more," she said.
"It's a shame, but as we've got older we've had to make the decision that we need to move to something a bit smaller."
The region's southern suburbs such as Berkeley are also seemingly becoming a popular option with young families from outside of the Illawarra.
Sydney-siders Charmaine Byrne, 34, and wife Michelle Fountain bought a home in Massey Street earlier this month.
Seeking to relocate, they couldn't find affordable options in their preferred location of the Sutherland Shire, so looked to the Illawarra.
"We just found Berkeley to be quite central to all the other suburbs, and the schools are good, which was important as we had a three-year-old son," Mrs Byrne said.
"We felt like there was a lot of potential in Berkeley.
"Not being from the area, I have heard stories about Berkeley, and we saw past that.
"I think it's really an under-rated area. You're close to the lake, and it's a very central location.
"I think a lot of people don't see past (the reputation). They hear the stories of Berkeley... I was told, 'oh, you've moved to Berserk-ley'.
"The street that we're in, it's a very community-based street. All the neighbours are friendly, and they all talk. It seemed like a nice fit for us."
Neil Webster from Stone Real Estate Illawarra said Berkeley was an area that was "somewhat frowned upon" in the past, but was now a suburb on the rise.
He said Berkeley typically attracted a mix of buyers, with first home buyers one of the key drivers of the market due to its price point.
"But there's homes up around certain pockets where there's newer, larger properties, like on Shearwater Drive, that are hitting the million dollars and above," he said.
"They're going to the larger families, and a lot of people who are relocating from out of area, such as Sydney and Western Sydney."
He said the reputation and perception of the suburb was shifting.
"What's changing it the most is that people who are looking to buy now are buying for lifestyle," he said.
"They want to be able to work from home and have those amenities around them, and Berkeley has a lake with good water sport access, which was something people probably didn't previously look at.
"The locals might have looked at it and thought, 'Berkeley, oh that's near the lake'. Whereas a lot of out-of-towners are looking at it and saying, 'wow, what a great spot. There's views of the lake, I can go to down there when I go fishing or take the boat out'... And there's shopping nearby at Warrawong, plus the Berkeley shops."
On the market
According to CoreLogic, the median sales price of houses in the area is $571,000.
Recent sales in Berkeley include 7 Nottingham Street for $648,000, 43 Southampton Street for $780,000 and 15 Blackwattle Place for $1,100,000.
Among the properties currently for sale in Berkeley is 25 Shearwater Drive.
Set on 672 square metres, the five-bedroom (plus study), two-bathroom home has a price guide of $980,000.
Selling agent, William Milenkovski from The Agency Illawarra said the home had a kids' play area at the back, large entertaining area and open plan living.
"It's in one of the best streets in Berkeley and Lake Heights - the houses there have great views," he said.
Among Neil Webster from Stone Real Estate Illawarra's current listings is 53 Cumberland Street, Berkeley.
The three-bedroom, one-bathroom home has a price guide of $650,000.
This single-level home features views towards the escarpment, and an entertainers' deck overlooking the level backyard and cabana.
"It's a beautifully renovated property - the owners are first home buyers who updated it, and are moving on to a bigger premises," Mr Webster said.
Meanwhile, the three-bedroom, one-bathroom home at 71 Nottingham Street, Berkeley has a price guide of $590,000 to $640,000.
The house includes a rear deck that offers both lake and escarpment views.
The selling agent is Michael Garside from Harcourts Dapto.