The insidious COVID-19 pandemic gripping the world is proving to be a catalyst for an escape to the country for many Australians.
The NSW South Coast has long been a perennial attraction for professionals and creatives leaving behind the rat-race for greener pastures.
But COVID-19 seems to be compounding the drudgery of working nine-to-five in an office, says Bermagui real estate agent Julie Rutherford.
She says Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne buyers who have been forced into pandemic redundancies or are close to retirement are making the decision to move now, rather than in a few years.
“Expats are saying, ‘Why am I in London?’ or ‘Why am I in New York?’” says Julie. “Technology is enabling us to work remotely so what’s holding up? Let’s go.”
She says the South Coast real estate market is holding up well, despite consumer confidence taking a hit in the wake of COVID-19 and anxiety around a ‘fiscal cliff’ when government weans businesses off subsidised JobKeeper wages.
In line with best practice, the agency is not holding open homes or auctions but has systems in place to allow safe, appointment-only inspections – and buyers are responding.
Describing the Bermagui market, Julie says, “We have very low supply of houses for sale but very high demand.”
Top of the list for high-end sea-changers are beachfront homes in excess of $1 million, such as 25 Keating Drive in Bermagui.
North-facing with direct access to Haywards Beach, this three-bedroom, two-bathroom home has uninterrupted ocean and mountain views.
With multiple decks and entertaining areas, finding the perfect spot to bask in the winter sun or seek summer shade is a breeze.
There’s also a fully appointed kitchen downstairs, and a built-in bar with bifold doors in the private, upstairs living space.
The property sits on the northern edge of town in a prestige area which is within easy reach of Bermagui’s main street.
Having undergone a relatively recent makeover, this modern, contemporary home has been privately held by the current owner for nearly 25 years.
“Homes such as 25 Keating Drive are tightly held because it’s all about position and you can’t be built out,” says Julie.
“They’re not making any more of it [in the region]. What is there, is being locked up, never to be accessed again.”
Julie says Bermagui’s sea-change allure has taken on a new sheen during the past 10 years.
“The village has become much more cosmopolitan,” she says.
“It’s nothing like it was in the late-1990s. There are boutique specialty stores, artisan providores, quality restaurants and high-calibre annual events such as Sculpture Bermagui.”
Compared to other beaches in the region, Julie says Bermagui is attractive because its beaches aren’t “rough and rippy”. Multiple estuaries means the water is easy to access.
In short, it’s the perfect destination for sea-changers to make the move. Or as Julie says, “Our time has come.”