5 things to consider before making a tree change

March 8, 2021
Better quality of life with a tree change

More Australians are working from home and property prices in our biggest cities are rising again. So it’s not surprising that so many city dwellers are considering a tree change. In the best-case scenario, you can find yourself working from home while living in a more affordable country town or city. And hopefully enjoying a more relaxed and comfortable lifestyle too.

Are you going to rent or buy?

A big decision when making a move to the country is whether to rent or buy. Renting gives you plenty of flexibility and lets you get a feel for the area before committing to the bigger decision of buying.

If you already own a property in a big city you also have to work out whether you want to rent it out while you’re gone or sell it. Selling the property frees up cash to purchase a new home in the country. But renting it out means you can always move back if you change your mind.

Buying is a big commitment, and one that requires a lot more research. It’s also an option that’s potentially more expensive than you might think, as property prices soar in many regional areas. 

These are all big decisions but there’s no need to panic. It’s about working out what your goals are and researching all your options carefully.

Have you worked out the cost of moving?

It’s also important to work out all the costs and complications that come with a big move. Buying a new property means paying stamp duty again, plus conveyancing fees and other costs. Selling means paying an agent’s commission and conveyancing costs again. 

And if you’re converting your existing home to an investment property then there are tax considerations. And if you have an owner-occupier home loan on the property you’ll need to switch it to a home loan for investors. This typically means a higher interest rate. 

There’s also the cost of moving, which can get pricey over longer distances. 

Can you commute to the city?

A tree change doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to the city completely. Before making a big move, think about the distance to the nearest big city. 

While places like Geelong, Newcastle and Wollongong might not exactly count as a tree change, these are regional cities that offer easier access to a quieter life while being pretty close to their state capitals. 

Wherever you move to, be sure to consider public transport links and accessibility to airports too. Depending on where you move to, you might be able to have the best of both worlds (or a little of the best of both worlds).

This can influence your job prospects too. You could work remotely for a company in the city and commute once or twice a week. 

Buying a property in a regional centre that’s closer to a bigger city probably means a higher price tag. But the prospects of future price growth may be higher too.

What’s the employment situation like?

Look carefully at the job prospects in the area you’re moving to. Even if you’ve got a comfortable remote working agreement with your current employer, you never know what can happen.

Some people really can work anywhere, but it’s worth considering what you’d do if you had to find a job in your new town. What work is available? What industries are thriving nearby? Can you adapt to a new line of work if you have to?

This isn’t just about employment, either. Regional areas that are reliant on a single industry, such as tourism or mining, are more vulnerable to economic shifts, industry closures and natural disasters. This can have a big effect on property prices. In the worst-case scenario you could find yourself living in a place with limited employment options and a home that’s falling in value. 

Are you really ready for a quieter life?

Having a great holiday in the country is very different from moving there permanently. So it’s really important to work out if you’re ready for a slower pace of life in the country. This can be hard to measure until you actually make the move. 

And life in a smaller town doesn’t necessarily mean no more social life. You might find a smaller, close-knit community offers more social opportunities than life in the suburbs, for instance. Scoping out the social life before making a move is definitely a good idea.

Richard Whitten
Richard Whitten is a senior writer at Finder covering home loans and property. He helps everyone understand the ins and outs of mortgages so they can make smarter property decisions. He has written for Yahoo Finance, Money Magazine, Homely, and for multiple banks and lenders. Richard trained as a high school teacher but found it easier to manage personal finances than a classroom full of kids. Before joining Finder, he edited textbooks and taught English in South Korea.
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