There will always be the suburbs you’ve never heard of, scoffed at or actively avoid. Perhaps you’ve written them off simply because they’re so out of the way or you’ve decided they’re passé, boring even.
As Sydneysiders, we can be notorious for turning up our noses at suburbs that don’t make the cut – for living in or visiting. But there are hidden gems waiting to be discovered in all corners of Sydney, whether it be for their good eats, unique character or the under-appreciated beauty of their surrounds.
When it comes to these underrated suburbs, it’s worth giving them a second chance.
A typical scene at popular Ashfield restaurant New Shanghai. (Photo: Facebook)
Dubbed the Chinatown of the Inner West or Little Shanghai, Ashfield is an eclectic and diverse suburb with lots to offer for foodies, hipsters and your Chinese auntie. Some might make the mistake of overlooking it for its more affluent Inner West neighbours and miss out on the underrated joys of this multicultural hub.
Ashfield excels in convenience, with its express train line to the CBD (and Newtown – hello hipsters!), frequent bus services and vast array of shops, restaurants, cafés and Chinese grocery stores. With popular restaurants aptly named New Shanghai, New Shanghai Night or Taste of Shanghai, it is no exaggeration to say that you will be spoilt for choice if you’re a fan of Shanghainese cuisine thanks to Ashfield’s booming Chinese community.
Popular Artarmon Japanese restaurant Kuru. (Photo: Facebook)
If your heart is set on the Lower North Shore, but you don’t love the isolation or snobbery, Artarmon is the place to be. This underrated suburb might not get as much recognition as its northern brethren, but its rail connectivity, proximity to the CBD and colourful shopping and dining options tick all the right boxes.
Known to be multicultural and versatile, Artarmon is the suburb with ‘two faces’ – and it is truly a suburb for everyone. Head to the east side for leafy streets on which heritage buildings wait to be admired or check out the west side for affordable apartment living and bustling local businesses. Go under the tunnel and be blown away by Artarmon’s best-kept secret: a quaint Japanese village encompassing authentic Japanese restaurants and mini-marts. Pretty damned good for the Lower North Shore.
Street art in Dulwich Hill. (Photo: Doug Maloney via Unsplash)
Lowkey, artsy and diverse; this vibrant, yet underrated inner-west suburb is more than meets the eye. Not only is Dulwich Hill a well-connected suburb with regular train services to the CBD, but it’s also within walking distance of Marrickville, and one of the more affordable suburbs of the inner-west. It is both down-to-earth and cosmopolitan with its lush parks, street art, strong multicultural community, and plethora of trendy cafes and eateries that will have any foodie swooning.
Gorgeous seaside views at Little Bay. (Photo: Arthur Guiot via Unsplash)
Open spaces and tranquillity are what it does best, which means it’s an attractive suburb for young families. Surrounded by golf clubs and gorgeous, secluded beaches, locals praise this underrated gem for its thriving café scene, neighbourly community and resort-like vibe. Rumour has it that it’s the last piece of the Eastern suburbs that is affordable for both renting and buying.
The typical home in Newington is surrounded by plenty of greenery. (Photo: Facebook)
Unlike the other suburbs on this list, Newington is a relatively nascent suburb that emerged following the 2000 Sydney Olympics. As a living legacy of the original athlete village, this underrated Western Sydney suburb exists on a geographic network of streets named after Olympic legends like Ian Thorpe and John Devitt.
Locals consider Newington to be an ideal choice for families looking for a tranquil oasis with a village-like ambiance, close-knit community and renowned primary school. Oh, and who could resist the leafy vistas and endless walking and cycle paths leading into the heart of nearby Olympic Park?
The Cannery in Roseberry, a converted warehouse and popular dining and cultural space. (Photo: Facebook)
In just a decade, Rosebery has gotten the facelift of a lifetime. Once an industrial wasteland, Rosebery, like many of Sydney’s inner-city suburbs, has gentrification to thank for its abundant cafés, trendified warehouses and designer stores.
Though the underrated suburb still remains true to its working-class spirit, its transformation into one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets has it attracting the DINKS and empty nester crowd. Adding to its vibrant culture, Roseberry is moments away from the airport, the University of New South Wales and the highly regarded perks of the inner-city.
It is no surprise this little pocket of industrial-yuppie chic is fast becoming every foodie and culture lover’s favourite hangout.
Affectionately called the ‘10-minute to anywhere’ suburb by locals, Waterloo is about three kilometres south of the CBD. Location and accessibility are obvious highlights of the underrated suburb, with frequent buses and Green Square and Redfern train stations within walking distance, plus an under-construction Waterloo metro station.
Gone are the days of its reputation as a dodgy suburb; Waterloo’s transformation into a trendy and affordable residential area has brought in a new generation of students, professionals and, dare we say it, millennials. With its Instafamous bar and café scene, funky antique stores, local skatepark and impressive connectivity, it is truly an inner-city suburb that is evolving from its industrial roots.
Breath-taking sunsets at Waverton. (Photo: Chris Walker via Unsplash)
Another underrated Lower North Shore gem, Waverton is not as dull as you might expect. Besides being super accessible by train and an easy 10-minute commute into the city, Waverton quietly boasts a tucked away, village vibe with gorgeous water views, leafy streets, charming cafés and a chill, seaside lifestyle to die for.
Unlike its more isolated North Shore cousins, the high-end suburb’s offerings of convenience and connectivity make up for its eyebrow-raising prices. After all, it is a stone’s throw away from bustling commercial hubs like North Sydney, Crow’s Nest and Chatswood, and the myriad coveted private schools of this area, if that tickles your fancy.
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Also published on Medium.