Have you ever wondered whether a tree change might be for you? That is, swapping the big city life for a brand new start in the country. Although over two-thirds of Australians live in our major cities, moving to the country is a big dream for many people.
Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world. But once you are outside of the major cities, the population thins out dramatically making our non-city areas one of the lowest population densities in the world. So what is Australia made up of? Major cities (69%), inner regional areas (20%), outer regional areas (9%), remote (1.5%) and very remote (0.8%).
Although the tree change is fast becoming the great Australian dream, are many people actually doing it? It seems some of the older generation are definitely keen to escape the rat race of the city and settle in an area that affords them a slower paced lifestyle. Of course this lifestyle comes with a price, and that is less accessibility to services such as doctors. On the upside, this is one of the many reasons doctors will always be needed in regional and remote areas – because even though the population may be smaller, it doesn’t mean the need for medical care is not still required. Especially in an ageing population!
So what are some of the upsides of going regional?
House prices in regional areas are a fraction of the cost of what you’d be paying in the city, and you’d probably end up with a bigger land size as well. Not only that, but the general cost of living can be cheaper with perks like lower insurance prices, and if you are in an area where the local produce is good you’ll have cheaper food that is also more fresh!
If the city is where your heart lies but you don’t have the money to enter the housing market, you could always consider a move to the country to save your money. Rent is a lot more affordable, and your commute should be shorter, so all of those savings can go straight towards your new home. If you are locuming you will also be able to earn more money than you would in a permanent position, even in the city. Once you’ve saved up enough you should be able to enter the more expensive metropolitan property market and move back. That is, assuming you still want to!
Imagine finishing a long shift at the hospital, getting in your car … and being home in a mere ten minutes. A short commute is the thing many Sydney-siders dream about while they are stuck in peak-hour traffic. The less time spent travelling to work means more time can be spent seeing your kids or attending their school plays, or going to the gym or playing sport. It also means less stress as you aren’t sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours.
Days off can be spent getting outdoors and being active, enjoying the fresh air or simply teaching the kids how to ride their bikes up and down quiet streets.
Try before you buy:
Moving to a regional area from a metropolitan hub can be a daunting idea, and there is a lot of commitment involved. Quitting your job and finding a new one, selling your house and buying a new one ... the list goes on. If you are too worried about making such a permanent move to a completely new place, why don’t you try before you buy?
If you own property, let it out and then rent somewhere regional for yourself. That way, you aren’t locking yourself out of the city property market if you change your mind. It is also a good idea to rent in the new area until you figure out which suburbs or streets you like, and what the market is like, and then you can buy a place once you are sure you want to be there.
You can do the same with your job. Try locuming in the new place so that you don’t feel obliged to stay for a few years if you decide you don’t like the area. If you do end up loving the new town, you can buy a home and apply for a permanent position, all while feeling confident that you know what you are getting yourself in to.
Some things to consider
Of course there are some things that you need to weigh up before making the big move to a regional area.
If you have children, you’ll need to look into schooling options for where you are moving to. Some remote areas won’t have much on offer, and in fact may only be able to do long distance education and home schooling. Others may have a small local school, which is perfectly fine up until a certain age and then your child will need to move on. And once they hit tertiary education the options can become very limited, meaning your kids might need to move away for a while.
There is also the cost of travel to take into consideration. If you will need to keep travelling back to the major cities very often, for work or family or to check on the property you left behind, you may end up spending a lot of money on travel. Sometimes the cost of travelling back to the city too often ends up negating the savings you’ve made from going regional in the first place.
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