John McGrath - Australia's Greatest Regional Relocation
Whilst our national identity is bound up with the bush, Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world with 67% of residents living in just eight capital cities.
But COVID-19 and advanced technology, which has liberated Australians from the geographic shackles of their city workplaces, is emboldening a great regional relocation as people seek the fresh air and space of regional areas - the beaches of Byron, Wamberal, Cairns, the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, the high country of Victoria and the NSW Hunter Valley.
As discussed in our McGrath Report 2021, major regional centres have outperformed their capital city counterparts since the pandemic began. Local home values have been well-insulated due to distance from the afflicted capital cities and rising demand from a growing group of newly-freed remote workers.
The work from home trend means we can work from anywhere. All we need is a fast internet connection, with seven million homes and businesses already on the NBN and 11.2 million ready to go. NBN Co will get $700 million in new funding next month, under the Regional Broadband Scheme, to provide better broadband in regional and remote Australia.
If you want to combine your regional escape with building a brand new ‘dream home’, why not take advantage of the HomeBuilder program, which has recently been extended.
The grant is $25,000 on contracts signed by December 31 and $15,000 on contracts dated from January 1 to March 31, 2021. The construction commencement timeframe has been extended from three to six months on all applications; and the price caps for the grant in 2021 have increased from $750,000 to $850,000 for Victoria and $950,000 for NSW.
Before the pandemic, Australians were already shifting to regional areas, primarily due to cheaper housing. It’s been an increasing trend since FY07 and there has been record outflows of residents from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to regional areas of NSW, Victoria and Queensland in recent years.
As this trend has continued, regional areas have grown and developed. Many have become more attractive, offering greater lifestyle amenities and more employment than previously.
Today, a barista-made cappuccino is no longer an urban luxury. The number of coffee shops in regional locations increased 16.4% in FY18 alone. Orange, 250km west of Sydney, now boasts 42 cafes and a number of fine dining establishments including several hatted restaurants.
Significant government investment is also turbocharging development in regional areas; and the jobs growth rate has become very similar to the capital cities.
Many regions are becoming economic powerhouses. A 2020 report by economics consultancy, Polis Partners found many large and small regional cities were outperforming their capital city counterparts on economic growth measures including population change, business and jobs growth and investment in residential and commercial construction.
The best performers included Ballarat, Geelong and Warragul-Drouin in Victoria’s West Gippsland region; Newcastle-Maitland, Goulburn and Bowral-Mittagong in NSW; and Gympie and Cairns in Queensland. The report found that the associated economic benefits of more city departees moving to these regions had contributed to their economic health.
Government will even cover the cost of you moving to the regions. For example, there is a $6,000 grant available under the national Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job (RATTUAJ) program, as well as up to $10,000 with the NSW Regional Skills Relocation Grant.
In the COVID-19 era, regional areas have taken on a special appeal - the desire for a simpler life. About 65% of Australians feel the pandemic has been the reset we needed to re-evaluate how we were living and 58% want a simpler life when it’s all over.
For many people, living in regional Australia and enjoying its space, tranquillity, affordability and lifestyle has long been a fantasy that was impractical and out of reach. But now that we are empowered to work from anywhere, we can finally live this dream.
To find out the most popular areas of our great regional relocation, as well as which towns have enjoyed the most price growth in 2020, downloading the McGrath Report 2021 here.
The views expressed in this article are an opinion only and readers should rely on their independent advice in relation to such matters.
This article originally appeared in The Real Estate Conversation (December 07, 2020)
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