Illawarra’s richest and poorest suburbs

Vicki and Dave Tanner and their children (from left) Sarah, Charlie and Liam enjoy a walk along the beach at Stanwell Park. Picture: MELANIE RUSSELLStanwell Park has topped a list of the Illawarra’s richest suburbs, with its average household earning more than three times as much as homes in some of the region’s struggle streets.

The Illawarra’s enclaves of affluence and hardship have been laid bare in a Mercury analysis of the 2011 Census data.

It shows the average Stanwell Park household earns $2135 a week – 22 per cent more than in 2006.

Fernhill, with its growing public housing stock, has replaced Warrawong as the region’s poorest, with average household income at $619 a week.

The region’s highest earners are geographically spread and include Cordeaux Heights, Mount Pleasant, Shell Cove, Calderwood, Kembla Grange, Mount Kembla and Mount Keira and a smattering of emerging Shellharbour suburbs that didn’t exist in 2006, during the previous Census.

Vicki Tanner and her builder husband David are often asked how they cope with the one-hour commute from Stanwell Park to their jobs in Sydney.

They have their reply ready, down pat.

“We just say, ‘That’s the price we pay for living in paradise’,” Mrs Tanner said.

The family moved from Helensburgh to Stanwell Park two-and-a-half years ago, following an earlier move from the Sutherland Shire.

Mrs Tanner, an office manager in her father’s Sydney manufacturing business, said Stanwell Park – the Illawarra’s richest suburb according to household income data – suited her family because they loved outdoor activities and the tight-knit community.

“It’s about lifestyle,” Mrs Tanner said.

“The thing about Stanwell Park is, everybody’s into their family and their kids,” she said.

“It’s not about having exuberant lives. Most people just entertain at home. Because we’ve got a pool, our house is great for entertaining.

“We like sitting down having a glass of wine with friends. All the kids look after each other. It’s very unpretentious.

“We might have nice houses, but a lot of people have high mortgages.”

According to the 2011 Census, it costs $2300 a month to repay the average Stanwell Park mortgage – $500 more than the Australian average.

The Tanners bought a caravan at Culburra Beach last year but don’t expect to leave Stanwell Park at every holiday because “you’re right next to the beach so you feel like you’re on holidays anyway”.

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