Working an investment property around your lifestyle needn’t cost you a fortune or involve a struggle to break even. Reap the rewards while you relax – Your Investment Property shows how going coastal can deliver the goods for every investment strategy.

Carving out an uncomplicated existence in pristine coastal surrounds is a dream held by many of us – you’ve worked hard in the city for years, watched your children grow up and move out and you’re now looking to escape the rat race.

Perhaps you’re a young couple and can’t afford to buy in the city area let alone a place close to town with sea views, or you’re purely looking for a coastal investment property.

In whatever shape or form, the sea change phenomenon has been with us for some time now. And the good news is that you too can capture a slice of the sea change action without having to completely escape your urban existence. More and more homeowners – particularly of the empty nester variety – are discovering the concept of the ‘multi-purpose’ investment.

Part holiday home, part retirement nest egg, the latest investing trend lies in purchasing a property ‘for all seasons’.

Depending on where you’re at, you may wish to buy something you can let out to holidaymakers, perhaps enjoying the odd weekender there yourself. Or, you may be looking for a cut and dried investment, in an area where you’ll be able to lock in a long-term tenant without too much hassle.

Lately, growing numbers of Baby Boomers have been investing in coastal regions, with visions of eventually retiring there. They’re not sea changers – well, at least not for the medium term. “Empty nesters are typically Baby Boomers whose children have moved away from home,” says PRD Nationwide head of research Tim Lawless. “They are generally either approaching retirement or easing their way into retirement.”

Lawless points out that empty nesters are often extremely financially secure, because they have gone through a number of property booms and have paid off the mortgage some time ago. “They’re able to overcome the most obvious obstacle that blocks entry to the coastal market – price,” adds Lawless.

These pre-retirees have become a market force to be reckoned with, particularly those hailing from major capital cities, according to leading demographer Bob Birrell of the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University.

“Metropolises are generating a huge amount of wealth – particularly amongst the professional managerial classes. They’re in a position to invest in property and we’ve seen that there has been an explosion in investment in coastal property,” he says.

In contrast to the sea changers, who are largely moving to the coast in pursuit of new opportunities, or to down their tools for good, this emerging class of property owner has a multi-faceted objective.

“The explosion of wealth in the metropolises is influencing investment in property in coastal locations within driving distance. People are buying partly for investment purposes, and partly to establish themselves in a retirement location for the long term. Many of these people would be renting their properties out in the short term,” says Birrell.

Of course, owning a shack by the beach is something many hard working Australians dream of. However, while it’s all very well and good to buy something in a tranquil, remote location that you are absolutely besotted with, most of us are only able to get away and enjoy it for at most four weeks of the year.

The secret to purchasing a holiday home, therefore, is to find a property that may actually pay for itself after a few years. You can achieve this by purchasing in a rapidly developing area – although your dreams of tranquillity may soon disappear – or you can buy in a location where holidaymakers are queuing up for rentals.

“Choosing a coastal location that provides a decent holiday rental market is important if the investor is chasing a yield,” says Lawless. “Tourism markets such as Queensland’s Gold Coast, the northern NSW coastline or Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula are all logical and well-known tourism destinations.”

As median house prices in destinations such as Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, or

Lorne along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, approach the $1m mark, holiday home hunters are taking themselves off the beaten track in search of the ideal weekender.

“Many coastal holiday home investors are looking towards emerging or lesser-known holiday destinations, as they usually provide more affordable price points for market entry, and there isn’t as much holiday letting competition,” says Lawless.

Another category of coastal investor concerns singles and families keen to secure long-term capital growth, and perhaps a stable rental income stream to boot. These investors are not in it for the quick buck – nor do they have any intention of ever occupying their property; a steady return with a view to either positively or negatively gearing their investment is the aim of the game.

“Coastal investors looking for long-term tenants often need to focus their search around seaside areas within commuting distance to a capital city or major regional centre, as this is where permanent renters are most likely to be available,” advises Lawless.

No matter which demographic group you identify with, buying property in a coastal area allows you to combine a solid investment with potential lifestyle benefits. However, it’s essential to firstly sit down and map out your investment goals. What do you want to achieve – capital growth, an income return, or a combination of both – and how long will this take?