Menai offers more space for a better price with plenty of concentrated amenities – but you’d better have a car to best enjoy it.

Zanui 468

Summary: One for those who like a little extra room to move – without being a wasteland lacking in amenities – Menai in Sutherland Shire provides a more reasonably-priced chance at a larger freestanding home. This comes without the extra fee for having a train station that multiple other suburbs in the region have tacked on. Both dotted with and surrounded by bushland, it’s a place where buildings and houses have a wider footprint in general, being mostly built out horizontally instead of vertically.

Its combination of multiple shopping centres and increasing hubs for dining combines with its array of educational opportunities to make for solid diversity for families as well. Distance from the city is a required sacrifice of living here, and while its fringing bushland offers walking opportunities, it has had issues with exposure to fires in the past. It’s also best as a base for those who can work either in the Western Suburbs or elsewhere in the Shire or southern Sydney, with owning a car basically essential for daily life.

Suburb Ratings:

Public Transport

Affordability (Rental)

Affordability (Buying)

Things to See/Do


Pet Friendliness

Key stats

Region: Sutherland Shire

Population: 11,000

Postcode: 2234

Ethnic Breakdown: Australian 25.6%, English 25.0%, Irish 8.1%, Scottish 6.3%, Italian 4.0%

Time to CBD (Public Transport): 65 minutes

Time to CBD (Driving): 40 minutes

Nearest Train Station: Sutherland

Highlights/attractions: Menai Marketplace, bush walks

Ideal for: Families, small families, retirees

Far enough west within Sutherland Shire that the waters of the Georges River is all that separates it from being unofficially part of the Western Suburbs, Menai offers a decent mix of family-oriented seclusion for those who want it – as well as proximity to fairly impressive amenities for those who prefer things slightly busier.

At its core, this is a highly roomy suburb that doesn’t really “do” high-density in any way, shape or form. While one might think the inherent appeal of living in Sutherland Shire in general would be the ability to enjoy a home with more floorspace, this doesn’t always apply in many other parts of the region.

Menai suburb review

Many of these are seeing the continued mass-production of apartment complexes, or cramming in of townhouses to relatively small blocks, which is not yet the case here.

In this regard, Menai remains more “original Shire”; a largely-residential, bush-oriented pocket of suburbia in which its religious origins and Anglo-heavy demographics remain part of daily life.

As a result, not much has changed throughout the bulk of its residential areas over the past 30-odd years, and were it not for the expansion of its robust central amenity zone, it could otherwise feel fairly frozen in time – for both good and bad.

Menai Sydney

The good here all obviously starts with the amount of space on offer. A lack of the highrise and mid-rise-heavy development other Shire suburbs have experienced in recent years couples with historically generous block sizes in general to make for a suburb that still offers room to breathe.

Quieter back streets with wider roads also follow in suit; you’ll have space to park a couple of cars on your driveway or lawns if need be, and will seldom have to endure the fight for on-street parking that many of Sydney’s more built-up suburbs entail.

Menai houses

Its more spread-out nature – coupled with the fact that it can be quite hilly in parts, particularly in its western portion over the highway – makes this pretty much a car-mandatory suburb, however its traffic situation still fares far better than most of its Shire peers.

Menai’s lack of a train station may be a dealbreaker for some, particularly those who need direct access to the city on a daily basis.

While Sutherland Station is technically only a 10 minute drive away over the Woronora Bridge, the drive-park-commute combo creates unnecessary hassle when competing with others during peak hours.

Menai traffic

Zanui 728

Bus-wise, Menai has services available but they’re relatively infrequent – don’t expect the bus-every-5-minutes type of luxury that comes with places like the Inner West, for example. Bus connections within the suburb itself are decent, however it’s not somewhere you’d ever want to live long-term without your own vehicle.

For drivers, its proximity to the A6 makes it a much easier prospect to jump on Alfords Point Road and head up the highway to workplaces out west as opposed to up into the CBD.

Zanui 300x250

Bankstown is technically only a 20-ish minute drive away during a good run, although congestion can quickly kick in once heading over the bridge and hitting Padstow and beyond.

Menai highway

Getting around within Menai itself is markedly better, with only its main central shopping district and its fetish for roundabouts where things start to get a little hectic. This is where most of the suburb’s expansion has happened, which has lead to an array of services that is quite impressive and makes Menai largely self-sufficient.

Menai Marketplace serves as its main shopping hub, and is quite a well-balanced centre for its (relatively small) size.

It’s home to both a Woolworths and Big W for the large-scale side of groceries and department store goods while also offering a decent little array of local cafes, banks, fast food outlets and other mixed retailers and services. Couple these with its library and community centre, and it’s solid overall.

Menai Shopping

It also boasts a pretty large outdoor carpark, but despite its size the car-heavy nature of the suburb means getting a spot here during weekends can be a bit of a chore.

Extra choice has been added over the years as well. Head over the other side of Menai Road, and the Menai Central complex serves as a worthy second option.

Menai Central

This comes with several larger outlet-style stores including Aldi, IGA, a gym, and several other fast food outlets and stores. There’s a lot of fast food around in general, for those times when you need a quick and lazy bite to eat.

Menai big shops

Carrying along with the general theme of the suburb, most of its shopping and retail bears a large footprint; they’re built out horizontally on wider floorspace and in more sprawling style rather than within multi-level style shopping complexes.

Add these to the older-style offerings along Illawarra Road, the new and more modern dining additions of Menai Metro, and the good-value meals and bar prices of Club Central Menai, and it’s a pretty comprehensive mix.

Menai Metro

It’s all possibly a little too concentrated within the one spot, which only really becomes noticeable if you’re living on the western side of the highway.

For those occasions where you need more full-blown retail, making the drive to Westfield Miranda takes around 20 minutes, depending on traffic.

Outside of shopping and dining however, there’s not a whole lot to do here. If you’re not eating, spending time with the family, or, say, playing sport or exercising, then there’s little in the way of entertainment outside of play centres and playgrounds for kids.

Menai Playground

Outside of the aforementioned Club Central Menai and new 3 Doors Down cocktail bar for a drink and the odd spot of live music – or driving down the road to the longstanding Bangor Tavern – it’s mostly family-oriented everything.

This obviously makes it ideal for families themselves, but a little lacking for the younger crowd.

Club Menai

Environment-wise, Menai’s bush-centric leanings make it a bit of a mixed bag.

While there are some pretty appealing public areas and green spaces – particularly the well-maintained and nicely laid-out Menai Parkrun / Parc Menai with its popular skate bowl, kids playground and backing reserve – much of the rest of it is pretty much untamed Aussie scrub bush dotted here and there throughout.

Menai Park

This is not a particularly “park-rich” suburb outside of the occasional back-street plain-grass reserve.

Its streets are leafy enough, and certainly no concrete jungle, but they’re pretty plain and unassuming outside of the mostly well-maintained lawns its residents do a good job of upkeep with.

Menai lawns

Its main spot that could be considered “unique” is its unassuming Menai Conservation Park along Allison Crescent which plays host to a number of rare and endangered plants with a walking track winding through.

It’s admirable from a conservation perspective, but not exactly spectacular to look at.

Menai Conservation Park

As a general rule in Menai, the more west you go, the more untamed its bushland gets.

Cross the highway, and the terrain changes noticeably as the amenities disappear, the land gets steeper, and its bush becomes even more thick.

Menai bush

This side of the suburb is almost entirely a mix of just pure residential, and bush – large homes, often with pools, are a frequent sight here, although there’s not much else on offer.

The bushland in this area offers walking opportunities, but has also been subject to numerous bushfire hazards over the years, with residents sometimes having to evacuate.

Menai reserve

Outside of its sporting field of Buckle Reserve and the Menai Primary School, it’s lacking in amenities other than its little local pizza & takeaway joints on Hall Drive, and without even a convenience store to grab some assorted things like milk in a pinch.

Menai field

In some ways, western Menai feels as though it could be an entirely separate suburb in itself.

It’s even more car-centric here than the eastern portion, which at least does a better job of providing things like a good range of flat cycling/bike tracks for getting around.

Menai steep road

The rest of Menai is healthily dotted with a number of little suburban bush tracks and walks that makes accessing a dose of greenery easily without heading elsewhere, while neighbouring Barden Ridge offers sporting and golfing facilities as well.

In additional, the expansive nature of Royal National Park is only around a 20 minute drive away which offers far more bushwalking and other nature-oriented experiences.

For families, Menai has a solid collection of both standard schooling, early education and learning centres, for all age groups of children.

Menai childcare

Eastern Menai is home to its two religious schools in Holy Family and Aquinas Catholic College, with non-denominational offerings to the north and over the western side of the highway as well.

Menai schools

Its array of kindergartens is also robust; combined, and it provides plenty of educational choices for families of most inclinations and demographics.

Menai early learning

Safety-wise, Menai ranks in the bottom-third of Sydney’s suburbs in terms of crime rate – no surprise given its relatively quiet, family-oriented leanings without much going on in terms of mass alcohol consumption, and high level of home ownership.

Clocking in at a low 0.07% crimes per capita, there are no real “hotspots” in the suburb for crime in general and it’s highly safe feeling overall.

Menai streets

In terms of its streetscape, Menai consists of almost entirely mid-to-large size freestanding homes, with only the occasional pocket of townhouses mixed in.

The majority of its houses are big, 80’s-style brick homes with wooden porches or verandas, striking a pretty happy medium between not being too old or dated while still being solidly-built before modern mass-construction techniques really kicked in.

Miranda bigger homes

There’s a high tendency towards double garages – a side benefit of the extra space on offer – and a healthy supply of four-bedroom as opposed to the more common three-bedroom houses as well.

Swimming pool ownership is also relatively high, with most of its houses built to serve the long-term purposes of their owners.

Statistically, Menai is also home to one of the highest percentages of ownership of any suburbs in Sydney, which is both a testament to the lifestyle on offer and contributes to its low crime rate. This also diminishes the quantity of options for those looking to rent, however.

It also means there isn’t too much supply for those looking for apartments or units. Menai is home to a few smaller clusters of low-rise unit blocks along streets like Allison Crescent and McMahon Place, while cheaper pockets of townhouses also exist along Old Illawarra Road and its larger complex down Daintree Way.

Menai apartments

As a result, most of the options you’ll have for buying a place here still heavily skews towards freestanding homes. It’s here that one of Menai’s strengths lies – it’s quite a good value suburb by Sydney standards relative to the general size of houses on offer, in exchange both for its slightly increased isolation and not having to pay the “train station tax”.

“It’s solid value given the suburb’s degree of safety relative to some of the other similarly-priced options in the same price range elsewhere in Sydney.”

This isolation would be more of a concern if Menai didn’t have such a solid range of amenities; however having plenty of shops and services on hands makes this less painful than it otherwise might be.

At time of writing, Menai’s median house price sits right on the $1 million mark, which is a decent chunk below the global figure for Sydney. While sticking to this figure will typically limit you to only 3-bedroom houses, it’s still solid value given the suburb’s degree of safety relative to some of the other similarly-priced options in the same price range elsewhere in Sydney.

For renters, the more limited supply on offer sees Menai sit more around the expected average for Sydney – $530 is right on the median figure for apartment rentals for the whole city, making it middle-of-the-pack in this regard.

The Verdict

The initial decision whether or not to consider Menai as a place to live all stems from how reliant you are or are not on public transport on a daily basis, and how important a “nightlife” scene is to your enjoyment of a place to live. If train or bus usage is a key part of your daily existence, then this might disqualify Menai from consideration for you immediately.

Such is the trade-off with being able to save a bit of cash on a home by sacrificing train access to Sydney City. If you’re the car-oriented type, then the strengths of somewhere like Menai that offers a lot more room, and a safe and largely peaceful environment are obvious.

While it’s not an “exciting” suburb, it’s better-equipped with amenities than many other otherwise purely-residential suburbs of its size. It’s certainly got enough shopping and dining on offer within its borders to not need to travel elsewhere too regularly.

It’s safe, it’s clean and generally well-kept, and while it doesn’t have much in the way of areas anyone would call “beautiful”, there’s no real “ugly” to it either; no truly dodgy spots, no mass graffiti (the skate bowl doesn’t count), and enough Aussie-style bush greenery to balance out its streetscape.

As a result, Menai is going to mainly be best suited to the family (and those looking to start a family) market who are happy to spend most of their non-work time within their own suburb itself. This is especially true given that Menai’s immediate surrounding suburbs are even less eventful than Menai itself; spots like Bangor, Illawong, and Barden Ridge are even more purely-residential than Menai is.

Its pricing for the size of home on offer is about as good as you’re going to get in Sydney before the relative crime rate starts to tick up substantially, so if a roomy, safe and quiet place to raise a family are the highest priorities on your list, then Menai is easy to recommend. If you’re after more excitement, then there are better choices on offer elsewhere.

Similar Posts