Benefits of Regional Living over City Life
It’s not surprising that many Country Changers report similar benefits when discussing their move to the Riverina. Affordability and work-life balance are very high on the list of advantages. At the same time, the beautiful natural landscapes and agricultural bounties are the icing on the cake. Here we’ll cover the top ten benefits that the Riverina provides for Country Changers who’ve shared their stories with us.
The first thing a Country Changer will tell you is how much more affordable their cost of living has become since making their Tree Change. It’s no secret that median housing prices in regional areas are a fraction of their city counterparts.
Nina and Luke Piotrowicz of Cootamundra say that their move has allowed them “to have a life, not just earn a living.”
The Big Movers population trend report and factsheet, compiled by Regional Australia Institute (RAI) note that between 2011 and 2016, 1.2 million people moved to and between regional areas. In a specific section on millennials, the report lists housing affordability along with rapid career advancement and lifestyle choices as the top three reasons this group chose regional over city locations. And this seems to be equally valid for the Country Changers we’ve spoken to in other age brackets.
Cathy Cullen, of Lockhart, explains that “Part of the reason I moved here was to escape the ridiculously high mortgages in the city. I still have a mortgage here, but it’s very manageable and only about a quarter of what it used to be.”
Sense of Community
After affordability, it seems that the sense of community that exists in smaller country towns is what strikes Country Changers most. Unlike many experiences of city life, where people regularly admit to not knowing their neighbours, those in regional areas do support one another.
Kaarin and Thomas Besgrove made their Country Change to Coolamon and said they “couldn’t think of a better place to raise a family. To know there is the support and a community that cares means the world to us.”
The interdependence that smaller townships enable genuinely means that success for one person or family creates success for the whole community.
“Businesses rely on one another to keep the community employed and to stimulate economic growth,” noticed Angeline Mulder, who moved to Tumbarumba.
Business and Employment Opportunities
Having moved to Gundagai, David and Emelia Ferguson were struck by the potential they noticed. “There’s lots of opportunity here for people to come and set up a business and do something a little bit different. This area is crying out for people to come and do new stuff,” they said.
“Country towns really benefit from new people coming from different backgrounds and bringing different abilities,” agreed Clair and Ken Walsh of Murrumbidgee.
With many varied environments represented in the Riverina, there are even more business and employment opportunities. Excellent internet coverage makes small business and work-from-home scenarios viable. And the proximity of smaller towns to major transport routes and bigger city centres also means that many companies also have bases here.
With more fulfilling job opportunities comes the potential for greater work-life balance.
“It has certainly given me a lot of balance, and a lot of time to just relax,” said Cathy Cullen of her Country Change to Lockhart.
Because there is less time spent commuting and overheads are lower, there is more time to engage in the things you enjoy. Many people express their relief at the slower pace of life.
Nina and Luke Piotrowicz, now Cootamundra residents, realised their city lifestyle “just wasn’t fun anymore.” The high mortgage, ever-increasing fees and continual parking charges overtook the enjoyment of the parks and attractions their city had to offer.
In Junee, Rob and Kristy Vergano also found that they were, “not as busy now, so get to hang out more as a family, which has been really good and brought everyone a lot closer.”
“It’s more peaceful, you get to know people better,” affirms Wayne Bond of the Leeton Heritage Motor Inn, who moved to Leeton with his wife Mia. “For a work environment and for families as well, it’s just a great community to live and grow in.”
The clean air and water, wide-open spaces and lack of pollution all make it onto the top 10 list of reasons people choose the country over the city.
“I didn’t actually appreciate the space I had growing up,” said Patrick Dawson, a young lawyer from Narrandera. “Returning as an adult, it’s like I am exploring my backyard for the first time!” he exclaimed.
Alison Swanston and Libby Mullavey, business partners who both have young families in Temora, cite the environment as a significant factor in their moves. “You cannot put a price tag on wide-open spaces, fresh air and the ability for our children to connect with nature on a day-to-day basis,” they acknowledged.
Proximity to Metropolitan Centres
One of the many misconceptions people have before considering a Country Change is that they won’t have access to things they need; this couldn’t be further from the truth. Good internet connections and many city conveniences are now available in regional towns. As such, there is rarely a need to make trips to larger centres, but when necessary, they are still quite close.
Being able to purchase goods and services locally has added benefits too. “It’s nice to know that the dollars spent in town, stay in town,” identified Kelly Glass of Jayfields Nursery, from Greater Hume.
|Approximate distances between Riverina townships and larger regional and city centres (in kilometres – Source Google Maps)
Less Commuting and Traffic
When stuck in peak hour city traffic it might be difficult to believe that quiet country roads could possibly lead you to your place of employment, but this is the reality for our Country Changers.
Julian, in Wagga Wagga, points out that the lack of traffic chaos was a game-changer for him. “There’s fresh air, green paddocks and vineyards, cows in the fields and beautiful views. And that’s just on the way to work!” he noticed.
Angeline Mulder, who moved to Tumbarumba, joked that “The worst traffic jam in Tumba [Tumbarumba] is cattle being moved on the way to town.”
Nature and Nature-Based Recreational Pursuits
Surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, forests and plains, snow and water skiing, bushwalking, hiking, nature photography, mountain biking and 4WDing are all available in the Riverina. As such, Country Changers report taking the opportunity to spend time in nature far more often than they did in the city.
“It’s a type of spiritual feeling,” disclosed Kathy Taylor, from Narrandera. “I feel a connection to the land. I love the trees. I love the river. I love the freedom,” she said.
Seasonal Living and Awareness of Food Sources
With greater work-life balance and less time spent commuting, Country Changers mention noticing and enjoying the changing seasons more than ever before. And it is not only recreation pursuits that change with the season. Classed as the food bowl of Australia, many agricultural needs evolve throughout the year as well.
Annie Featherstone, of Griffith, has also been delighted by what her family has experienced. “Seeing the kids awaken to where food comes from is great. They have so much more gratitude for what goes into producing their food and understand it so much more than they did in the city.”
Health and Wellbeing
The nine factors listed above all contribute to Country Changers feeling a greater connection to themselves and others.
Kelly Glass “wanted [her] kids to develop the grounded demeanour and associated work ethic that rural living contributes to.” And she has seen this sense of wellbeing become their reality since making their move to the Greater Hume Shire.
“We have a great life here, and I finally have time for my own health and wellbeing. It’s wonderful,” said Annie Featherstone of their move to Griffith.
The Benefits of a Country Change are as Vast as Your Intentions
Of course, there are far more than just ten benefits of moving away from the city. As we have seen, the advantages of a Country Change are as vast as your intentions.
Andre and Keryl De Hann, from Coolamon, sum this premise up perfectly, “You gain so much more than you think you might lose just staying where you are.”
If you’d like to experience some of these benefits in your day-to-day life, contact us to find out how we can help you make your Country Change dream a reality.
 Millennials are those born from 1981 – 1996
Feature Image: ‘View of Tumbarumba Vineyards, a part of The Snowy Valleys Council.’ Photo credit: Destination NSW