Suburb Showcase: Waterloo

March 25th, 2021 - by Brad Gillespie

Big things are happening in Waterloo.

Once Sydney’s industrial heartland, it is now a blossoming inner city residential haven with a bright future.

The location

Bounded by Phillip Street to the north, South Dowling Street to the east, O’Dea Avenue and Bourke Street to the south and Botany Road to the west, Waterloo’s convenient location, reasonably priced property, gold-standard amenities and charming heritage-listed buildings offer the absolute best of inner city living.

Located only 3km from Sydney’s CBD and an easy trip to the airport, its excellent public transport connections make commuting a breeze for Waterloo residents. They also enjoy great local amenities such as supermarkets, specialty shops, eateries, a public library, primary schools, parks and green spaces all within walking distance.

Tucked between Sydney’s east and inner west, it is neighboured by Redfern to the north, Alexandria to the west, Zetland to the south and Moore Park to the east. The restaurants, cafes and bars of Surry Hills are within strolling distance.

But you don’t need to leave Waterloo for good food and coffee. If you fancy a mimosa or bloody mary with your brunch, check out Baby Coffee Co. on the corner of McEvoy and Elizabeth Streets. Visit Wild Cockatoo Bakery on Botany Road, a hole-in-the-wall artisanal bakery, for some of Sydney’s best sourdough. Flavours change daily and include saltbush and nigella seed.

It’s an area steeped in history, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic church and its neighbouring primary school built in 1858 are some of Waterloo’s oldest remaining buildings. The local town hall on Elizabeth Street, built in the 1880s, is now the heritage-listed Waterloo Library, home to the Koori Collection, a historic archive of Aboriginal history.

Property market update

There’s no doubt that Waterloo is a desirable inner-city residential area. With significant new infrastructure and housing development in the works, property values in the suburb are predicted to climb over the coming years.

Most of the housing stock in the suburb is apartments (5813, according to the 2016 census), with a small number of semi-detached or terrace houses (622) and only 19 free-standing homes. As of March 2021, the median price for houses in Waterloo is $1,072,500 and units is $824,000, according to When compared with nearby suburbs like Surry Hills and Redfern, property in Waterloo represents fantastic inner-city value, which suggests that now could be a good time to buy.

Given its proximity to the city and excellent public transport connections, it’s no surprise that Waterloo is popular with young professional couples. According to the 2016 census, the median age of the suburb’s residents is 32, 22.7% are married and 36.8% describe themselves as professionals.

Property investors take note – the majority (70.8%) of Waterloo’s residents are renters, in a mix of public and private housing. Houses in the suburb rent for $693 per week with an annual yield of 3.4% and units rent for $600 per week with a rental yield of 3.8%.

Five fascinating facts about Waterloo

How it got its name

The Gadigal people were the first inhabitants of Waterloo. Before European settlement, the area was a diverse wetland, with streams and low scrub, dominated by the large swamp.

After colonisation, the land that today comprises Waterloo was granted to John Thomas Campbell in 1825, who named it Mount Lachlan Estate after Governor Lachlan Macquarie. The suburb later took its name from the nearby Waterloo Farm which occupied the areas now known as Zetland, Alexandria and Rosebery.

The name Waterloo commemorates the famous Battle of Waterloo from 1815.

A working-class history

Early European settlers used water from the area to irrigate market gardens that produced vegetables for the city of Sydney.

The swamp, and the aquifer beneath it, offered a reliable water source for industry, and in the 1820s Waterloo’s first industrial activity began with the construction of a paper mill and a flour mill. Waterloo Council was formed in 1860, and the district saw huge growth in the 30 years from 1870. Larger scale industries, such as glass factories, leather tanning, boot making, and wool washing moved in, and rows of terrace housing and wooden workers’ cottages filled the landscape.

Poor sanitary conditions – lack of sewerage, clean water and drainage – meant that Waterloo sadly had some of the highest mortality rates, and reputedly the highest infant mortality rate, in Sydney.

From the 1940s, a policy of urban renewal saw many of the slum houses demolished to make way for public housing, which ranged from two-storey houses to towering high-rise blocks. This continued until 1974, when objections from residents saw a green ban placed on further demolition. Since then, emphasis has been placed on preserving buildings that reflect the area’s working-class heritage and many fine examples of terrace houses built in the late 1800s and early 1900s remain.

Green Square

Green Square occupies the southern portion of Waterloo, as well as parts of Rosebery, Alexandria, Zetland and Beaconsfield, and is the site of one of the largest urban renewal projects in Australia. It is one of the nation’s fastest growing neighbourhoods, with over 30,000 new residential dwellings expected by 2030. Development has been underway since 2007 and includes a new town square, an innovative new library and plaza, an aquatic centre, parks and playgrounds, a childcare centre and a creative hub. The train station at Green Square connects the area with the city and the airport.

The new Waterloo Metro Quarter

Waterloo is set to become even better connected, with a new underground metro station due for completion in 2024. Waterloo Station will form part of a metro line connecting a new route under the CBD with the existing Bankstown Line.

The NSW Government’s latest plans for the area above the station, known as Waterloo Metro Quarter, include more than 600 apartments spread between four residential towers, a new office and retail building and a public plaza. It will include student housing and affordable housing, childcare, health services, shops and eateries, and is slated for completion in 2025.

Waterloo Estate development

The public housing at Waterloo Estate is the next portion of Waterloo set to undergo urban renewal. Like Green Square, the redevelopment will be one of the largest urban renewal projects in the country. It is expected to take place over the next 15 – 20 years, and the City of Sydney’s latest plans show a wide central thoroughfare lined with trees and shops, new streets and two parks, as well as a mix of private dwellings, affordable homes for low-income earners and social housing.

If you want to make Waterloo your new neighbourhood, contact us today.