Homebuyers outflanking regional regret
Our great migration to the regions is a no longer a flash in the pan but a lifestyle trend that is here to stay, say treechangers and property experts alike.
Due to the pandemic, Aussies exited our cities for the bush in record numbers over the past year. As our economic recovery gathers steam and the COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins, the shift to the regions has begun to slow but the increased attraction of a slower life will continue well into the future says demographer and social analyst Mark McCrindle.
He said there will be "tree change bounce back" where people return to the cities - after international borders reopen, the pandemic passes and companies decide they want to see more of their workforce face-to-face.
"The regional cities of today offer all you can get in the capital cities with a few million less people and less of the downsides," he says. "They have universities, independent schools, cafe culture, NBN and transport hubs."
Home price growth in our cities has again begun to outpace regional growth after 10 successive months of surging demand in the bush. Part of this is due to the boom-like conditions in our cities as homebuyers pour money that might usually be reserved for holidays or other recreational activities into property.
"The infrastructure and jobs are there in regional areas. You can transfer your entire skill set there, so there are plenty of opportunities," First National CEO Ray Ellis said.
"The rush will slow down as we return to post-COVID normal but the lure will remain because the reason for moving to regional areas aren't just a dream they are reality.
However given home price gaps between metro and country areas will in all likelihood remain, home buyers thinking of a move do have to be somewhat cautious because in some ways if you go bush, you can't come back.
"Make the decision to rent your house in Sydney or Melbourne or where you are, that way you leave your options open. It's also an idea to spend some time in the area where you are thinking of moving to. And not just when you're in holiday mode, try to mimic what it would be like living and working there.
Dr Tanya Harkness and Anthony Alfirenko with their children Josh and Tashi, 13 have moved out of the city to Apollo Bay
"We wanted a slightly different lifestyle for our children - one that was more attuned to nature and more focused on community," Dr Harkness said.
"I love the fact we are surrounded by nature and that we are so much more active in our environment. The other aspect is the community.
"For me, it's peaceful, the people are genuinely connected and our house itself is light and roomy - these are the things we thrive on. For others considering the move, the first thing I would say is to be wary of bringing a city mentality with you.
"There's a tendency to look down on the regional areas, which tend to have their own dynamic and function well within that dynamic. You can't bring that attitude with you and expect to thrive."
"You would have to drag me kicking and screaming back to the city now," Dr Harkness said.
Don't miss our new look At Home magazine this Saturday with your metro newspaper and online At Home.
Originally published as Homebuyers outflanking regional regret