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Thinking of a regional move? Here’s what you need to know

19 July 2022 | 6 min read
Regional living has become a goal for more Australians than ever before. From the rise of working from home to the discovery of slower paced living during lockdown, the decision to leave city life behind has become a popular one.

“Regional property has outperformed most capital cities during the pandemic,” explains Bendigo Bank’s Head of Economic and Market Research, David Robertson.

Attributing the spike in demand to a widespread desire for a different lifestyle, David explains that the regional unemployment rate has now fallen below capital cities. If you’re among the thousands of Aussies feeling the pull of a sea change or a tree change, here are some important things to consider.

Regional vs capital city house prices

Many Australians built lives around capital city locations due to proximity to central business districts and employment opportunities. “Working from home has changed that to a degree,” Mr Robertson explains. With recent data1 identifying that two thirds of Australians are working from home some or all of the time, regional living is an appealing switch. The goal: more space, less money, slower living and access to beaches, bushland and green space.

In fact, Bendigo Bank’s very own Mobile Relationship Manager, Adam Williams, recently made the move from Canberra to the Sunshine Coast. “It ticks all the boxes for us,” he said. “It took 3 hours to get to the beach we loved in Canberra. We are now 15-20 minutes from the beach!”

What lifestyle are you seeking?

Adam’s advice to those looking to make the move is to really think about the lifestyle you’re looking for – and most importantly, what that’s going to cost. “It’s all very well to have a lifestyle expectation, but can you afford to live it?”

For Adam and his young family, the cost of their Sunny Coast lifestyle took them by surprise. While living a more outdoor lifestyle was what they’d always dreamed of, the day-to-day costs were something he hadn’t factored in. “It’s little things like a Boost juice at the beach, or a coffee from the local café,” he says. “For five people, three times a week or so – that’s a lot of money at Boost!”

The cost of the move itself

It’s important to remember the costs of the move itself. Direct costs like removalists and agent fees are one thing, but indirect costs can add up too. Things like travel costs when home hunting in a new area, temporary accommodation between selling and buying, and the inflated cost of moving services if you’re undergoing a long haul relocation.

“Check your numbers and have a decent buffer to allow for things,” Adam advises, having gone through the process himself. “We were in temporary accommodation at first, and during holidays and peak periods that got expensive.”

Consider your needs long term

When leaving an inner city lifestyle behind in pursuit of a sea or tree change, consider your long term life goals. In hot property markets, it can be extremely difficult to buy back into the market you left behind.

Ensure that your new area will grow with you and your family. Are there schools nearby? Will you need to factor school fees into your new lifestyle budget? If you’re moving further away from family and friends, are you comfortable with the implications of that long term? From a career perspective, will you always work from home? Do other jobs in your industry also allow remote working, or will you find new work in your new area?

Thinking long term will protect you from purchase regret and ensure you’re making the right decision for both your finances and your lifestyle.

Choosing where to buy

Buying in an area that’s unfamiliar to you can be overwhelming. Mr Robertson suggests utilising resources like CoreLogic to explore the value growth in the areas that interest you, and taking past results with a grain of salt. “Previous growth in property values and rental trends doesn’t always ensure future returns,” he warns.

Get a professional opinion

As a first step, speaking to your broker or lender about the financial aspect of your regional move can help you get a clearer idea of what’s possible within your financial capacity. From here, break down the costs of the move and of your new lifestyle. Don’t forget to add a buffer!

Remember to approach regional moves objectively. While moving for a greater quality of life is an emotional pursuit, it’s important to balance the financial reality with the immediate appeal of a new life.

1Australian Institute of Family Studies (2021)

Any advice provided in this is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal needs, objectives and financial circumstances. You should consider whether it is appropriate for your situation. Please read the applicable product disclosure statement(s) on our website before acquiring any product.

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