Rentals at The Waterfront, Shell Cove are in high demand, with plenty of competition among those looking to move to the area, property managers say.
Darren Fitzpatrick wanted to relocate from Sydney to provide greater space for his growing family.
"We were tossing up between the Southern Highlands, or Shell Cove/the Illawarra," he said.
"We stumbled across Shell Cove, and it just blew us away. It's 90 minutes to Sydney, you've got the beach, the parklands, marina, dining precinct, and a real sense of community.
"We didn't get some of the properties we applied for (at Shell Cove), but thankfully after about a month we landed one."
Mr Fitzpatrick, 36, and wife Morgan, have one child, Leo.
Quality of schools was also a primary consideration for their move.
They've secured a terrace rental at Shell Cove.
"We had a baby recently, and were looking for a place to raise our son," Mr Fitzpatrick said.
"And we can work remotely now, which means we can live anywhere.
"It has a real sense of community. We're moving there in two weeks, and we've met four sets of neighbours, and three of those neighbours have kids under the age of three, which is great for us."
Shell Cove is a joint development between Shellharbour City Council and Frasers Property Australia.
Richard Kemp is the national property manager at Frasers Property.
He said they had a number of rental apartments and terrace homes at The Waterfront that they were managing on behalf of investors, through their on-site property management service.
This includes listings in the recent Aqua apartment release, as well as various terrace homes elsewhere in the project.
"Some people have bought them as holiday rentals for Airbnb, some have bought them as long-term investments with perhaps a view to move in and retire down the track, and we handle those for the investors," he said.
"The development has come a long way in the past 12 to 18 months. The shopping centre opened a few years ago, with the Woolworths, restaurants and adjoining shops. And now, with a view to the marina and hotel opening in the near future, it's becoming very much a hot spot for renters.
"I think the whole Illawarra region is seeing a boost since COVID; people are looking to relocate regionally with a lot of people working from home, so people are viewing Shell Cove as an ideal place to live.
"As a result, the inquiries have really strengthened over the past 12 months."
One-bedroom apartments in the Aqua release are being leased for about $550 per week, two-bedrooms for about $610 per week, and three bedrooms (usually luxury apartments with views) for $830 per week.
Four-bedroom terrace homes are typically rent for $700 to $750 a week.
Mr Kemp said their property management team was reviewing more than 20 applications for some rental listings, usually the terraces, at Shell Cove.
"If investors do appoint us to manage their property, we show their property to prospective tenants before they settle, and in many cases we've leased their property before they've even settled," he said.
He said they were also able to lease some properties off-market, given the database of potential renters they had established.
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Simone Dyer, development director at Frasers said they were expecting the interest from tenants to increase in the next few months at Shell Cove, as more coastal infrastructure and facilities opened to the community.
She said the unique positioning of the coastal spot also presented a prime investment opportunity.
One such example is architect Jock Robertson and his office manager wife Carol.
"We were keen to buy an apartment in Shell Cove, as we are of the opinion that the area has excellent growth potential and provides attractive amenities," he said.
"We'd like to be able to use the apartment as a weekend residence and holiday house for six months of the year, and rent for the other six months.
"That way, we derive a benefit for our family's use, receive income which covers outgoing costs for the year, and obtain capital growth in the long term. It's a win-win arrangement."
The couple bought a three-bedroom apartment in the Nautilus precinct in February.
"We purchased the apartment with views to the north and overlooking the harbour, which offered the perfect orientation and the amenity of three bedrooms with double frontage, allowing for cross-ventilation of the apartment," Mr Robertson said.
As semi-retirees and empty nesters, the Robertsons also view the property as a long-term retirement option.
"It is definitely a possible place for us to fully retire to, when we get tired of living in Sydney," he said.