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  • Pros and cons of regional living

    Pros and cons of regional living

    Many Australians continue to embrace the notion of a simpler, idyllic and less stressful way of life, away from the big cities with cleaner air and a relaxed way of living that comes with country living. 

    The rise in housing prices across metropolitan cities (particularly in Melbourne and Sydney), has prompted many families to seek new lives where affordability is greater - often selling up and relocating to take up new employment opportunities as part of a wholesale ‘life change’ for them and their families. For others, it’s meant moving to simply get a foot on the property ladder where the cost of entry is lower. 

    This type of Aussie migration has taken place in provincial centres like Ballarat, Bendigo and the Central Coast of Newcastle, Gosford and Wyong, plus the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast in Queensland.  In many cases, areas have now become extensions of their metropolitan capitals as the urban sprawl pushes in all directions. For some, it means a longer daily commute into the cities and for others it has been a defining opportunity to seek new employment in regional areas.

    If regional living sounds good to you, there are a few things you will need to consider:

    Although the key regional centres often follow the property fortunes and cycles of their metropolitan state and territory capitals, they do tend to lag in terms of percentage price growth as these markets don’t have the same volume of buyer demand. They are also subject to the local sub-economies and employment characteristics. 

    Before you decide to move to a regional centre, and particularly if you have never lived in a regional community before, it is a great idea to spend some time visiting on weekends as well as during the week to experience the region on a practical level.  

    One way to measure how suitable an area might be is to draw up a list of the important aspects of your existing ‘metropolitan’ lifestyle and then cross-check that against what the local regional community has to offer. For example, consider your expectations and needs in terms of schooling, entertainment, shopping, sports, hospitals and medical care, dining, retail, employment, housing, parks and local amenities, recreation, traffic, roads and public transport infrastructures amongst others.  

    This is exactly what Melbourne professionals Alex and Shayne Foster did as they contemplated moving from their trendy inner city pad in Melbourne’s Collingwood, before swapping for a life on 10 acres, just outside of Bendigo amongst wineries and wildlife. 

    As busy professionals, Shayne is the General Manager of a Melbourne law firm and Alex an IT executive. They were hesitant at first about the move and trialled the ‘tree-change’ for 12 months before finally selling their renovated city home. 

    “We sold our 3 bedroom cottage just 5 minutes from the city and purchased a grand heritage Victorian home on 10 acres with historic buildings and a swimming pool all set within established glorious gardens and we still had plenty of change left over,” Alex said.

    “We wanted a bit of a life-change, a place to raise our son, without the daily trappings of city life, but we needed good schooling, local infrastructure like restaurants and reasonable shopping. We didn’t want to turn our back on everything that we love about city life, including good coffee,” said Alex, who commutes three days a week to Melbourne by express train. 

    “We both travel to Melbourne for work and whilst it’s an early rise, it’s a convenient and enjoyable way to spend some time reading, working or watching our favourite TV episodes on the train. It just takes some planning and commitment to get the action plan and child-care in place, but we have a system and it works for us.”

    Shayne who regularly travels interstate for work said he gets to the airport from Bendigo and the trains run express in many instances.

    “We are both generally the first in the office when we arrive at work in Collins Street,” Shayne laughed.

    “Weekends are times to really enjoy living here and family friends always have that envious look when they come to visit. We’ve got lightning fast internet, cinemas, lakes, cafés, bike trails, festivals plus seven day trading and all the big retail stores – and we are in the middle of the Victorian goldfields and food trail. There is always something happening,” Shayne said.

    As Alex and Shayne will attest, when assessing a regional centre it is important to look for areas that have an adequate supply of public transport, good road access to larger centres for shopping and access within an hour of a regional airport.    

    Regional living has many positives including smaller and closer communities, reduced population and congestion, and increasing local infrastructure and commercial opportunities to encourage new people to settle these areas. 

    However, it is worth noting that there are some potential negative aspects associated with regional living that will impact people to varying degrees and, this should be considered as part of your ‘migration checklist’.  Fundamentally, there is reduced ‘choice’ that exists in regional areas and this may impact your level of satisfaction and how you interact within your new local environment. 

    As we move ahead into 2016, I predict modest positive growth in regional property prices across the following cities:

    New South Wales 

    • Central Coast
    • Wollongong
    • Orange
    • Wagga
    • Bathurst
    • Dubbo
    • Coffs Harbour  

    Victoria 

    • Ballarat
    • Bendigo
    • Geelong
    • Wallan/Seymour  

    Queensland 

    • The Gold Coast
    • The Sunshine Coast
    • Townsville
    • Cairns  

    South Australia 

    • Victor Harbor
     

    About the author

    • Andrew Wilson

      Dr. Andrew Wilson, Senior Economist for Fairfax-owned Australian Property Monitors and Domain.com.au is our numbers man on The Great Australian Dream. As a leading commentator on the Australian property market, specialising in housing market analysis, Andrew has a strong following with weekly columns in the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age.

      Throughout the series, Andrew will help home buyers understand what the numbers really mean and reveal the forces driving the Australian property market whilst breaking down the jargon along the way. Dr Andrew Wilson has previously held senior property and construction research positions within industry, academia and government as well as holding a PhD and Masters in Research in Housing Market Economics.

      Andrew Wilson
     

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    The information here is of a general nature only and is not intended to constitute financial or tax advice. You should consult your professional adviser, accountant or taxation expert for advice specific to your personal circumstances.