In decades past, it would have been unthinkable for terms like "trendy" to be associated with Port Kembla, or for the suburb to be compared to the likes of Surry Hills and Newtown.
However, the negative perception has largely shifted, and in recent times the beachside town's property market has been on the rise as generations discover - or rediscover - the town's benefits.
Duanne Truter has owned the Scratch Coffee Co café on Wentworth Street for four-and-a-half years, and also lives in Port Kembla.
He said Port Kembla was a trendy place to be now, and "becoming more so too".
"I think people have realised what's here," Mr Truter said.
"We've got one of the best beaches in the Illawarra.
"Being a café owner and a business owner... I've been to a lot of other cafés (in other places), and people that see each other every day don't tend to say hello.
"But in Port Kembla, they do. In Port Kembla, you know their name, you say hello to everyone and it really has a community feel."
Port Kembla was hit hard by the economic downturn in the 1980s, and by the expansion of neighbouring Warrawong.
While the steelworks is still running, it employs a fraction of the workers it once did.
In the past, the town had a less than desirable reputation in the eyes of many, due to its crime rate, dilapidated buildings and sex worker trade.
Being from the Illawarra, Mr Truter was aware of this perception when moving there and establishing his business.
"I think the view that people have had of the place isn't what it is (now)," he said.
"Maybe 15 years ago in the bad old days, but not any more."
Vesna Mitrovic, 30, has lived her entire life so far in Port Kembla.
Mrs Mitrovic, who works at the University of Wollongong, and husband Dean, an insurance consultant, own a home in Port Kembla, and also recently bought an investment property in Forster Street.
"The beach is the main reason, and also just being a central location - close to Wollongong and Shellharbour," she said of Port Kembla's appeal.
The couple feel the suburb had undergone a transformation for the better in recent times, with plenty of development and investment taking place.
"In recent times it's been cleaned up a lot, especially the stores in Wentworth Street," Mrs Mitrovic said.
"There's a lot of nice pop-up cafes there."
The couple believed that in the past it was an older demographic that were looking to live in Port Kembla, but in recent times many younger couples were seeking to invest or reside there.
"It was a working-class suburb predominantly; a lot of people that worked in the steelworks and that type of industry," Mr Mitrovic said.
"You had that generation 15-20 years ago where a lot of people moved out to the newer suburbs like Flinders. But now you've got a generation of people where they're seeing the value in Port Kembla.
"You can't really drive into a street in Port Kembla now without seeing a knockdown-rebuild or a renovation."
The Mitrovics said it had been challenging to buy an investment property in the suburb, and they had missed out on a few to Sydney buyers.
"It's just going up and up - for us, it was a matter of getting in while we could, before it gets out of reach," he said.
David North, secretary of Port Kembla Chamber of Commerce said while Port Kembla's CBD had been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, "it really is a lovely place to be".
"It's very community-centred," he said. "The people that live there are concerned about what happens in their suburb.
"It's become an artistic hub as well; there's the Red Point Artists Association, photographers in the (main) street.
"In terms of houses, nothing stays on the market very long, and the big thing seems to be the knockdown-rebuild."
Martine Dippre from Kore Property Group described Port Kembla as "the new Surry Hills of the south".
"I used to sell in Surry Hills and Redfern when people were just starting to take notice of it and all these suburbs offered," she said.
"I can see Port Kembla heading in the same direction with the same intensity of demand those areas had in the early days."
Ali Yagmur from Domain Illawarra Real Estate said the changing face of Wentworth Street was helping to improve the suburb's image.
"Eventually, Wentworth Street will be a bit like Newtown - it will become very trendy," he said.
Mr Yagmur said many first home buyers had been pushed out of the Port Kembla market by the prices.
He said it was popular with second and third home buyers.
"A lot of the European families that were first there, the ones who were working at the steelworks, now all of a sudden their kids go, 'wow, we've got the beaches, the pool, the industry is closing down so it's a lot cleaner'," he said.
"Their parents lived there, and now the kids are wanting to come back in.
"It's a beautiful little spot, we're getting a lot of Sydney-siders, the market has gone crazy with the prices. It's a very hot suburb."
According to CoreLogic, the median sales price of houses in the area is $673,750.
The median sales price in the suburb jumped from$549,950 at the start of 2017to $635,000 a year later.
Recent sales in Port Kembla include 7 Third Avenue, Port Kembla for $875,000; 60 Donaldson Street for $805,000; and 12a Surfside Drive for $1.9 million.
Brendan Mitrovski from One Agency Elite Property Group Illawarra is the selling agent for 3/34 Surfside Drive, Port Kembla.
The two-bedroom, one-bathroom townhouse has a price guide of $640,000.
He said the property was attracting a lot of first home buyer interest and some investors.
"There's ocean views from that property, and it's in a great spot," Mr Mitrovski said.
Among Ali Yagmur's new listings is 19 Second Avenue, Port Kembla.
The five-bedroom, three-bathroom house is situated minutes from Port Kembla Beach.
It's for sale via expressions of interest, with a price guide of $1.5 million.
Also on the market is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse at 2/20 Church Street, Port Kembla.
It has a price guide of $629,000, and is located minutes from Port Kembla's main street cafes and shops.
The selling agent is Rade Brbevski from Ray White.