NATIONAL property writer Terry Ryder might have blacklisted Gladstone as a "suburb to avoid", but new home owners are telling a different, more personal, story.
They're investing in the Gladstone region with confidence, saying this is a great region to raise children, with plenty of long-term job opportunities, and all the benefits of country living.
Terry Ryder used sales, vacancy rates and prices to compile his Dirty Dozen list, which is aimed at investors, and this year Gladstone made the list for the second time in a row.
It's listed alongside towns including Karratha in WA, Moranbah and Mornington.
But the latest report from fellow property analyst Michael Matusik, released in September, says this is "a very good time to buy in Gladstone".
So, it seems locals might be more likely to take the plunge and buy in Gladstone before the market starts recovering, because they understand the cycle better than outside investors.
Michele Carlson used to lived in Gladstone; she lived here for 20 years. She wanted to buy a home in 2012 after her marriage broke down but ended up spending four years at Tin Can Bay.
The high prices had forced her out of town.
Now she has bought at Yarwun and no longer has to drive four hours to see her daughters and grandchildren.
"The prices have dropped so much. That's the only reason I've been able to afford to buy here again," Michele said.
"Yarwun is the right place for me. I love it. It's lovely and quiet and even though it's close to Gladstone it has a more country feel."
Steve Sharman and his wife, Ann have settled on acreage at Beecher after living all over Australia.
They say the lifestyle here --- a compromise between city and country living --- "couldn't be better" for them.
"We did have a little concern buying at first because we knew prices were going down," Steve said.
"But we know we got a good deal. We feel the market has bottomed out and if it hasn't we're not worried because we're here for the long term.
"Gladstone is perfect because there's also an airport so at any point we can jump on a plane to Brisbane.
"We love it here."
First-home owner and father of three Dion Simmons, 25, had no hesitation buying locally.
He and his wife, Melinda, were renting at Riverstone Rise but are settling into their new home at Tannum Sands after finalising the paperwork on Thursday.
The couple has moved three times in the past two years while Dion looked for stable work.
Now, with a good job at Boyne Smelters, he is confident. Gladstone does not rely on one single major employer, he says and there will be more work opportunities in five to 10 years.
"I would rather my kids were brought up in a smaller country town too. I'm not a big town person and here you don't have to battle the traffic every morning for the school run."
Jamie and Kaylene Paoletti bought a home at Boyne Island after living here for 16 months. Jamie landed a job on Curtis Island as a fitter.
It wasn't a difficult decision once they saw how settled and happy their three children were.
"This is a great place to raise kids. There's lots for them to do and I feel they are safe just going for a walk to the park, the basketball courts or the shops," Kaylene said.
"We could see the kids wanted to stay here.
"Now is a good time for us to buy a house and it happened that we found the right one for our family."
So, we're back on the bottom of the pile, but that was decided by people who have probably never been here, and certainly don't know what we have to offer.
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