Hear that? It’s the sound of The Gong beckoning you to contribute to its steadily growing population.
But are you ready for life in Wollongong? This sleepy seaside city may be a charmer, but like any city, it comes with its perks and pitfalls.
If moving to Wollongong is on your radar, grab yourself a coffee (or tea, or wine – whatever), and study up on New South Wales’s third-largest city.
Living in Wollongong: Pros and Cons
There are plenty of things to do in Wollongong – and we’re not just talking about the great surf or the science centre. But along with the exciting stuff come unflattering features that shouldn’t be overlooked if you’re considering moving to Wollongong. So we’re going to shove them in your face, strategically sandwiched between pros. You’re welcome.
Pro: It has great beaches
Arguably the best part of living in Wollongong is having easy access to awesome beaches. Some of the city’s favourite spots include:
- Wollongong City Beach (5-minute drive from CBD)
- Beach Cove, Belmore Basin (7-minute drive from CBD)
- Coledale Beach (25-minute drive from CBD)
- Stanwell Park Beach (35-minute drive from CBD)
- Wattamolla Beach (1-hour drive from CBD).
If a beach-bum lifestyle is right up your alley, you’ll feel right at home in The Gong.
Con: It’s not bursting with economic opportunities
This relaxed city isn’t exactly known for its jobs growth and business attraction. Studies show Wollongong has a higher unemployment rate (7.1%) than Australia’s average (5.6%). Like with any city, we suggest landing a job in The Gong before you uproot your life.
Pro: Housing is cheap(ish)
According to realestate.com.au, Wollongong is a pretty affordable place to buy or rent. With a median unit price of $600,000, Wollongong is cheaper than New South Wales’ median unit price of $649,990. Renting is less expensive too, with the Wollongong median unit rental price per week at $420, while New South Wales’ average is $500.
Con: It’s not exactly hip
A simple Google search will show you the sobering downside to Wollongong in the eyes of those in the front line. While the majority of Gong locals boast about beautiful beaches and a flourishing dining scene, others complain about unattractive old buildings and a lack of culture and sophistication. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, right?
Pro: It’s close to the big city
Sydney is just a 1.5-hour-drive or train ride away, giving you easy access to all the sights and sounds of the big city. With the country’s largest city on standby for daytrips aplenty, you’ll never run out of ideas for the weekend.
Best Wollongong Suburbs to Live In
Chasing a quiet piece of paradise? Or perhaps you thrive on the hustle and bustle of inner-city living? Whatever lifestyle you’re looking for, Wollongong has a suburb for everyone.
Mount Pleasant – Inner Suburb
This hilly suburb sure lives up to its name. Clean, green, and quiet, it’s just minutes from the CBD and nearby beaches. Home to a recently renovated shopping centre, cafés, and restaurants, Mount Pleasant has everything you need right on your doorstep. Pleasant Heights Public School is known as one of the best in the city, making this suburb great for families.
Figtree – Inner Suburb
Another frontrunner for young families, Figtree is a leafy and laidback suburb with a large Westfield shopping centre, medical facilities, and schools. There are beaches close by, spacious parks to play in, and plenty of restaurants to choose from. Plus, the public transport is great – there are regular buses that take you to central Wollongong and the beach whenever you feel like getting out and about.
Woonona – Northern Suburb
If you like to be beside the seaside, Woonona puts you in prime position. Boasting a patrolled beach and 50-metre saltwater swimming pool, this hidden gem should be at the top of every beach lover’s list. It also offers great cafés, restaurants, schools, and a decent nightlife.
Wollongong’s Dining Scene
The Gong’s culinary scene is on the rise, with trendy cafés, bars, and restaurants sprouting up on every corner. Sink your teeth into some of our favourite dining spots in the city.
Precinct – The Shellharbour Club
Alive with colour, sound, and mouthwatering smells, Precinct provides hip street-food market vibes by the bucket load. Wander through the bustling lanes and taste the flavours from all over the world. From tacos to dumplings, pork ribs to fried chicken, this dining hotspot will be a hit with the whole gang.
Whether you’re craving sustenance to fuel your shopping spree or you simply don’t feel like cooking, the new Warrawong Plaza dining and entertainment precinct is jam-packed with tasty options to tempt your tastebuds. Choose from eateries offering everything from authentic Asian fare to hearty burgers, and don’t forget to leave room for dessert.
Culture in Wollongong
Surf, sand, and a show? Yes please! Wollongong offers some great entertainment for when you need to get your culture fix.
Illawarra Performing Arts Centre
Smack-bang in the heart of The Gong, the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre is the city’s premier performance venue. Housing the Merrigong Theatre Company, here you can get your fill of live performances spanning mediums such as dance, ballet, opera, musical theatre, jazz, comedy, and more. Not a bad way to spend a weekend, right?
The Illawarra Museum offers a glimpse into the history of Wollongong and its people. With paintings, photos, guest speakers, and more, there’s always something new and exciting popping up on the calendar.
The Gong has an oceanic climate with humid subtropical influences. As far as weather goes, Wollongong welcomes a lot of pretty pleasant days in general. Be prepared for every season with these tips.
January is usually the hottest month in Wollongong, and February is the wettest. With a high of 28°C and a low of 17°C, summer in The Gong is the perfect time to take advantage of the great beaches – when it’s not storming, of course.
Autumn brings temperatures with a high of 24°C and a low of 12°C, making it a pretty mild and pleasant season for the city.
Things can get a little windy in The Gong from July to August. Winter brings temperatures between 9°C and 18°C, but with warm winds, we suggest wearing layers you can take off if it gets too toasty.
In spring, you can expect temperatures to rise to around 23°C and drop to a low of 11°C. The beaches begin to warm up later in the season, when locals return to the surf to cool off.
Getting Around Wollongong
Once you’re here, getting around The Gong is easy thanks to its simple public transport systems.
Wollongong has several city centre bus zones to accommodate people travelling from suburbs all over. These bus zones are colour-coded (blue, green, red, and orange) depending on where you’re located, making it easy to get where you need to go. The Premier Illawarra and Dion buses operate regular services in and around the city.
There’s also a free shuttle bus (the Gong Shuttle) that can take you around the CBD, operating every 10 minutes between 7am and 6pm and every 20 minutes from 6pm to 10pm.
CityRail offers regular timetabled services via the South Coast Line if you’re looking to take a trip to the outer suburbs or Sydney.
Wollongong Radio Cabs services the Wollongong city centre and Illawarra. You can book a taxi 24/7 on 4229 9311.
Take some stress out of your move to Wollongong with these 10 tips.
Tags: City Guides