Wollongong: A thriving – and affordable – CBD location

The word is now out. Wollongong is punching well above its weight as a place to live, work and do business.

What if we told you taking the big city out of the location equation makes a lot of business sense? The kind of sense that could help your business go (much) further, while enjoying the benefits of a relaxed coastal living, and more quality time with your family.

The solution? Wollongong.

The word is now out. As any local will tell you, the city is punching well above its weight as a place to live, work and do business.

Wollongong is one of the nation’s top locations for people moving from capital cities to a regional ‘seachange’ area, according to the June 2021 Regional Movers Index. And Wollongong was the location of choice in NSW – rounding out the top 5 nationally were Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Geelong, Wollongong and Newcastle.

If you haven’t been to Wollongong in a while, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Endless beaches, gorgeous bushland, a buzzing CBD and friendly, liveable suburbs, mean it’s the perfect choice for a sea-change.

And to put it into blunt business terms, relocating to Wollongong will affect your bottom line – in a positive way.

But I need to be in a big city

An image of Faye HollandsAre you sure? As the world embraces remote-working technology and moves toward hybrid and flexible work, now is the time to re-think your approach to business as usual.

Whether you’ve had to break your commercial lease or are looking for ways to dramatically lower your monthly overheads, a move to Wollongong can build a new kind of success.

Wollongong isn’t your usual sleepy coastal town. We’ve got all the big-city facilities, but with a friendly small-town heart.

You’ll find everything you need here, plus enjoy the welcome which comes from people who genuinely love where they live.

Faye Hollands, Chief Business Builder at Busy Business Women found the decision to leave Sydney in favour of the south coast a simple one.

“When we compared prices in Sydney to Wollongong, it was an easy decision – we could get so much more for our money and it was a nicer place to live,” says Faye.

“Less busy, beautiful beaches and easy access to everything that we need. We went from living in Balmain and my office in York Street, highly-populated and busy, to being two kilometres from the beach.

“Our lifestyle has changed dramatically – we can even be at the beach before work. That’s why I love living here.”

Halve your commercial rent

If you’re based in a major city, monthly overheads like rent are probably a constant source of worry. What if you could reduce these costs? What else could you be spending that money on?

In Wollongong, our commercial rents are significantly less than those of major cities like Sydney and Melbourne.

And research shows that our lower staff turnover, combined with lower salaries, operational and real estate costs for businesses can bring a direct saving of up to 33%, compared to places like Sydney, Parramatta and Melbourne.

Being based in Wollongong doesn’t mean your business is remote, or disconnected from HQ. You can enjoy lower business overheads and affordable cost-of-living while still being within easy reach of Sydney.

Wollongong CBD is only an hour from Sydney airport by car, and also well connected with Sydney by train – you can be in the Sydney CBD within 90 minutes. And there are direct flights from the local airport to Melbourne and Brisbane.

So whether it’s an important meeting that needs to happen in person, or that must-see exhibition you’ve had your eye on at a major Sydney gallery, Wollongong is not far away.

Finding your space for success

As more businesses choose to call Wollongong home, the demand for A-grade office space is increasing, and there are currently several large office developments either recently completed or under construction.

By mid-2022, Wollongong CBD is expected to have an additional 28,000sqm of completed A-grade office space, representing a 36% uplift on previous stock levels.

The availability of new office stock, combined with our large highly skilled workforce and great work life balance provide an opportunity for businesses. If you want premium office and commercial spaces, you can have them, but we also offer other business settings you may not have considered.

The University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus is ideal for businesses who want to be well-connected to big thinkers, while enjoying world-class buildings, right next to some of the city’s best beaches.

People power

Worried about finding the right people? You needn’t be. Wollongong has a talented and highly educated workforce.

You can tap into the 23,000 highly skilled professionals who commuted to Sydney for work, or access the talent coming out of the highly-regarded University of Wollongong.

Whether you need tech coders or software developers, engineers or industrial workers, marketers or number-crunchers, you’ll find what the right talent pool here in Wollongong.

Local employers also find that once hired, people stay. Research shows that Wollongong has a staff turnover rate of 8% compared to a national average of 19% – a fact backed up by anecdotal evidence from business.

“We’re the envy of other NEC offices, as we enjoy double the retention rates,” says Martin Braithwaite, General Manager – Business Transformation, Managed Services at NEC Australia. “Because it’s such a lovely place to live, no one wants to leave Wollongong.”

Most organisations invest heavily in retaining staff, particularly in industries where recruitment for talent is competitive and on-boarding training time is significant. Big efficiency savings can be made when staff turnover is low.

Getting to know you

In Wollongong, our business networks are built on connectivity and mutually beneficial relationships.

Here, you’ll find a business community which thrives on collaboration and connectivity. These aren’t just buzzwords here, they’re the real deal. Our business networks are built on the belief that what benefits one, benefits all.

And that’s the experience Faye Hollands has seen first-hand: “It’s definitely more about building a community and a network that is focused on the long-haul, which I love. I felt like Sydney was very transactional – there was lots of business card swaps! I don’t see that in Wollongong which is really refreshing,” she says.

“It is much more relaxed and conversational. It’s easier to strike up a conversation and people are much more open to building connections here.”

We all want to see Wollongong businesses build their success, and the positive growth of our business sector and the local economy is a result of this community-minded approach.

For advanced manufacturing businesses, i3net is your gateway to the Illawarra’s network of manufacturers, engineering service providers and industrial suppliers.

Siligong Valley is a community of more than 1,000 tech and creative professionals, who hold free events and meet-ups, and are focused on placing Wollongong on the global tech and entrepreneurial map.

Illawarra Women in Business is a supportive network for professional women in business, and Business Illawarra is our local chapter of the NSW Business Chamber.

Both of these major networks hold annual award events and regular networking events throughout the year.

The Illawarra Connection is another strong business network for professionals from all sectors, built on a philosophy of success through collaboration and support.

Siligong Valley: Wollongong’s tech meetup

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