Not ready to go on an overseas holiday? The best spots to holiday at home have been ranked, and buyers can snap up a bolthole for as little as $240,000.
The Gold Coast took out fourth place on TripAdvisor’s 2022 Travellers’ Choice Awards for the South Pacific, a ranking based on reviews by travellers.
It was followed by Hobart (5), Sydney (6), Port Douglas (7), Cairns (8) and Melbourne (9).
Queenstown in New Zealand took the top spot, and other international destinations included Bora Bora (2), Auckland (3) and Rotorua (10).
Buyers who have the means have been chasing holiday homes or a more permanent move throughout the pandemic, especially in Queensland, amid lockdowns and a shift to working from home. Ultra-low interest rates have supported demand, while a property boom that increased homeowners’ equity enabled plans to move or buy a second home.
“We’ve probably been going full steam ahead for at least the last six, seven months, where we started to see the interest from down south picking up,” Cairns-based Chris Gay Real Estate principal Chris Gay said.
“People are looking at the idea of a lifestyle change, coming up to the tropics – fresh air, lifestyle and not crowded like the capitals are.”
The Cairns local government area had a median house price of $475,000 over the 12 months to September 2021, Domain data showed, up 10.5 per cent from the previous year.
Mr Gay said buyers could find a nice unit starting from as little as $240,000, or units on the foreshore from about $500,000, and prices vary widely by location.
He has seen some out-of-area buyers make a sea-change and others looking for a holiday home while international travel has been off the cards, with some hoping to stay for three to four months over winter and rent the property out the rest of the year.
“Our property prices, they can’t believe how reasonable they are,” he said.
In nearby Port Douglas, the median house price hit $815,000 after a 21.6 per cent in a year, and is now 50.9 per cent higher than five years ago.
Recent sales in the area range from a sub-$200,000 villa in a holiday resort, to luxury homes with pools for about $2.4 million.
Ray White Port Douglas principal Mark Flinn said despite the recent reopening of the international border, he is seeing many Australians who still want to holiday in Australia and own a holiday home here, especially in a warm climate.
Some clients who owned an apartment in the area have decided to sell and upgrade, to something else, for example.
“They’ve always loved the place, but probably went to Europe for a couple of months,” he said. “They say, ‘We spend more time there now’.”
Beachfront homes are in hot demand, alongside homes set in the rainforest that offer privacy, he said.
Further south, perennial holiday destination the Gold Coast clocked an 18.8 per cent jump in house prices to a median $820,000 across the region.
For deep-pocketed buyers, the top end of the Gold Coast market is now above $20 million, after a series of suburb-record-breaking sales.
Amir Prestige principal Amir Mian is fielding enquiries from southerners who can work from home, returning expats and locals, with many hoping to rent for a few months while they find somewhere to buy and move in.
“Queensland is a little bit different, it’s a little bit more easygoing, but we do have good weather, beautiful beaches and hinterland,” he said.
“Covid has put life back into perspective, to say ‘me first’, rather than ‘everyone else first’.”
Less sunny, but still affordable, Hobart made the list and has been drawing interest from mainland buyers.
Greater Hobart’s median house price shot up 31.9 per cent in 12 months to reach $698,212.
That’s still less than half Sydney’s median house price of nearly $1.5 million, and about two thirds of Melbourne’s median of just under $1.04 million.
Nest Property Hobart director Patrick Copeland has seen strong interest from Sydney and Melbourne buyers, who are now flying down to inspect properties but were previously buying sight-unseen before the state border opened.
“Right up until the end of 2021 it was very buoyant and things were selling extremely fast,” he said, adding that enquiry this month has dipped amid the Omicron outbreak.
“Tassie’s on a lot of people’s radar to move down here because we had pretty much all our freedoms, compared to Sydney and Melbourne that were in lockdown for so long.”