Many of us have dreamt about one day living by the beach or in the country in pursuit of a more relaxed lifestyle. But for most of us, previously it hasn’t been a practical option. Most jobs are based in the capital cities, forcing many people to put their dreams for a tree change or sea change on hold until retirement.
Now, as COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of remote working in many workplaces across the country, suddenly the opportunity to make a tree change or sea change has become much more attainable.
Australians flock to regional Australia in droves
House price growth in regional Australia outpaced growth in the capital cities in 2020 for the first time in more than 15 years. While the capital cities grew by 2 percent, regional markets grew by 7 percent.
Places which have attracted a lot of interest include the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions, Central Coast, Newcastle, the Hunter Valley, Orange, Dubbo and Byron Bay in NSW. In Victoria, Geelong, Ballarat and Maryborough have proven popular. In Queensland, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast have boomed with price growth of 25 percent.
Destinations within 90 minutes of the capital cities have been particularly popular for those who want to work from home part of the week and make the commute for the other half. Buyers can still be close to their neighbouring capital city to commute for work when needed without sacrificing on lifestyle.
The experience of spending so much time at home throughout the pandemic has forced many of us to think about our homes in a new light. Things which are readily available in regional Australia such as more space, a larger backyard, a pool, a more tranquil setting or proximity to beaches or the bush are at a premium, compared to the things which have previously made capital cities attractive like proximity to bars, restaurants and central business districts.
For those worried about going into lockdown again, there is a sense of urgency to make the move now before any future lockdowns commence. Others may feel safer living outside of the capital cities which are at greater risk from the pandemic.
For renters in Australia’s capital cities, moving to regional Australia may make their home ownership dreams possible, without compromising on employment opportunities. Both property prices and the cost of living are more affordable in regional Australia.
Should you bring forward your plans for a tree or sea change?
If your job is able to move with you, if you’re a parent and happy with the available schools and childcare options, if you feel the community will be a good fit for you, and you’re ready for the challenge of making new friends and creating a new network, then there’s no reason why now isn’t a good time to move.
Interest rates are at record lows, making buying property much more affordable. Many of us have saved more during the pandemic which may be able to go towards a deposit. For those who already own a home in a capital city, selling up and moving to regional Australia may be an affordable option.
It’s a good idea to talk to your financial planner about how the move may affect you financially. You should consider how you might benefit from a lower cost of living, whether the move may affect your employment prospects, whether you will need to invest more or less in schooling, how much your property in regional Australia will cost to run over the long term and whether the local infrastructure will support your ability to work remotely as more people move to regional towns.
It might be wise to rent in the regional area you are thinking of moving to first, before undertaking the life changing decision to sell up and relocate. What you liked about the sleepy coastal town over a holiday long weekend might not be all that appealing when you are living there 24/7!