It’s the subject of many a romantic dream – moving to the country.
The tree change has become a popular phenomenon in Australia, touted by some as the answer to the housing affordability crisis in our big cities.
With the promise of smaller, more close-knit communities, more affordable housing and escaping peak hour traffic, many Victorians are moving to regional towns, encouraged by advertising campaigns and incentives from local councils who are eager to encourage skilled people to their communities.
Is it all craft gin distilleries and enjoying the sunset from the verandah of your affordable new home, or are their drawbacks to the seemingly idyllic life that beckons as you watch the city smog recede in your rear-vision mirror?
More House for Your Dollar
The median house price in Melbourne is currently just over $900,000 and rising. This puts even a modest home beyond the means of many people trying to get a foot on the property ladder, particularly first-home buyers.
Regional Victoria uses housing affordability as one of its selling points. Ballarat boasts a median house price of just half that of Melbourne. In Tarragona the median is just $330,000, while Mildura has a median house price of $310,000. In Shepparton you can buy a home for $286,000.
First home-owners who buy or build in regional Victoria are eligible for the First Home Owner Grant which is twice that of their city counterparts and can also take advantage of stamp duty concessions which apply to all first home owners.
In a regional city or country town, you won’t have to contend with stress-inducing peak-hour traffic, and you may even be able to commute to Melbourne if transport links permit.
Young families choose to re-locate to a regional area for safer, more community-based atmosphere, with the lure of having school, work and social activities within easy access.
Regional centres can offer a slower, less rushed pace of life, where the competition and some of the social pressures of the big city are diluted.
While houses may be more affordable, the traffic less stressful and the pace of life a little more gentle, these things can become a downside if you are not ready for such a big change.
It can be a big adjustment if you are moving away from established school and work communities, family and friends. Loneliness and isolation can be dream-killers, no matter how close your children’s school is or how nice the view from your back verandah.
It can be hard to settle in to an area where long-standing residents may not consider you a ‘local’ even after many years of being part of the community.
Integrating into the community through work, school, volunteering and the local arts and sports scenes can help ease the transition.
Smaller cities and towns also tend to have higher unemployment rates and a smaller choice of good jobs on offer, though highly qualified people and those with a professional are often in demand and can be lured to regional areas with competitive salaries and perks.
Businesses that can be conducted online or remotely and that don’t require a lot of client contact – such as graphic design or finance – are good candidates for businesses that can be moved to the country along with their owners.
When to Make the Move?
Get a feel for the area by doing day trips, weekends and short stays to get an idea of what the area is like without rose-tinted glasses. Rent out your city property first and rent in your new destination – ‘dipping your toe in the water’, so to speak. If you realise the country life is not for you, you still have a foothold in the city property market, which can be hard to re-enter without substantial capital behind you.
Do your homework- research the job market and the local school scene. Speak to locals. Give yourselves a year to see what your new location is like in all seasons.
The Victorian government has a host of resources for those who are contemplating a tree-change or sea-change.
Are you sea-changing, tree-changing, upsizing, down-sizing, building, renovating, or taking your first steps on the property ladder?
The Home Inspection Hub can help.
Our qualified, experienced inspectors conduct pre-purchase house inspections, new home construction inspections, owner builder defect reports and special purpose inspections across Melbourne, Geelong and Central Victoria.
We also offer more specialised services such as VCAT reports and expert witness, tax depreciation schedules and contract review.
Call us on 1300 071 283 or ask us for a free quote today.