The Northern Beaches suburb of Narraweena used to be unflatteringly known as ‘Criminal Hill’. These days, the suburb has shaken off that image to become a highly sought-after area, especially for young families looking for a tight-knit suburb that’s close to the beach.
To get the lowdown on Narraweena, 26 and Sunny Podcast hosts Cat Denney from Nook Money and Nick Freeman from Addvantage Property sat down for coffee with local real estate agent Matt Nicastri from Cunninghams.
Matt was the perfect person to speak to about the suburb as he was born and bred in Narraweena and now sells real estate in the area for Cunninghams.
Matt, can you start by locating Narraweena for anyone who’s not familiar with the area?
Absolutely. Narraweena sits in between Dee Why, Beacon Hill, Cromer and Brookvale. Getting more specific, the suburb starts at Victor Road, which is the border of Dee Why, and extends down to Prescott Avenue. An easier way of thinking about it is that it’s a suburb back from the beach at Dee Why.
Before we look at what Narraweena is like today, what was it like growing up there?
Narraweena was a great place to grow up. It was very, very tight knit. It used to be a kind of rough area and there was a number of unflattering names for Narraweena, one of them being ‘Criminal Hill’.
It definitely shook that unglamorous title many years ago, well before I came along. Now, like other gentrifying areas, it’s in the process of changing rapidly, becoming a bit more edgy and in vogue.
Many of Narraweena’s residents have Italian ancestry; that’s a rather unique factor of the suburb?
That’s right, it’s something many buyers don’t know. It’s also the reason there are a couple of great delis in the area! It stems from post-war migration, with many Italian immigrants calling Narraweena home.
It also goes some way to explaining the community feel of the suburb. Many people associate Italian culture as being very family orientated and generous, and that’s a real positive for the area. These days, the suburb benefits from the Italian traditions and heritage, combined with the positives of the modern Australian lifestyle.
What’s Narraweena like today? How has it changed?
The area has been going through a period of transition, and property prices have a big part to do with that. It’s still an affordable area as far as the Northern Beaches go, but entry level into the suburb is still around $1.7 million.
That entry price results in a different socioeconomic crowd entering the suburb, and different expectations from those that live there.
In terms of vibe, Narraweena is centered around its village with the school at the centre. So it’s got good walkability factor and a great community feel. It’s also in close proximity to arterial roads which means Narraweena ticks a lot of boxes.
There’s also the fact that five minutes away is Dee Why or Curl Curl beach. It’s no wonder the out-of-towners have shone a light on what the suburb actually has to offer because they don’t have any preconceived notions about it, and they see it exactly for what it is.
That makes it a logical and popular choice for those that are looking to move to the Northern Beaches.
Narraweena used to have a lot of social housing, what’s the property make-up of the area like now?
A lot of the social housing stock has been sold off and now the suburb is predominantly private houses with block sizes that range anywhere from 500 to 700.
They’re decent size blocks which is what makes the suburb so appealing to many. There’s very, very few apartments. And much of the old government housing has been transitioned into disability services, which is fantastic.
Who’s typically your buyer in Narraweena these days? And what are they drawn to?
The buyer pool in Narraweena is very diverse, but generally speaking it’s the ‘professional family’ or the ‘professional couple’ looking for value from an entry level point of view.
As mentioned, there’s a lot of large homes in Narraweena and so those who are looking for space are purchasing in suburbs like Narraweena. By contrast, if you look at some surrounding suburbs like Cromer, there’s a lot of cottages, which often don’t fit the needs of growing families.
In terms of development in the area, what’s on the agenda over the near term?
The improvement of Narraweena shops was a significant development in the area. They used to be a bit tired but now have been rebuilt by a really reputable developer, and it’s improved the whole vibe.
It’s contributed to the gentrification of the suburb because a trendy set of local shops is obviously really appealing for people.
Otherwise, there’s no other significant planned developments in the area of note, and I think that’s a huge selling point for people, because, unlike nearby Dee Why, there’s very little threat from units.
Narraweena’s been called a ‘safe suburb’ for property prices, what do you put that down to?
I think that’s because of the realisation of the suburb’s attributes. When you speak to anyone who’s investing they look at a number of fundamentals and proximity to the beach, a good set of local shops, transport links all rate very highly on that list.
What’s more, Narraweena is a suburb that is one of the last remaining affordable suburbs, compared to its surrounds, on the Northern Beaches. With the lifestyle positives of living near the beach in a tight-knit community-oriented suburb, there’s no doubt Narraweena is a great, and affordable, option.
But it’s important to remember, there’s a number of great premium homes in some streets, like Rowena Avenue, and Rayner Avenue, where they’ve got phenomenal ocean views. Some of these homes command upwards of $3.5 million to $4 million. So there’s that side to it also, it’s a very diverse suburb.
Prefer to listen? Head to the podcast episode here